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Videotapes Show Inmate Repeatedly Ask To Not Be Force-Fed
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William Coleman, a Connecticut inmate who's been on a 17-month hunger strike, testified for a short time Tuesday afternoon--at a hearing to determine whether the state can continue force-feeding him. His attorney played two videotapes in the courtroom that showed Coleman being restrained by prison staff before two separate force-feedings in 2008.
Part of William Coleman's argument against the state force-feeding him is that it's a violation of his right to free speech and the right to refuse medical treatment. In one of the videos recorded last October, the court could hear Coleman repeatedly ask the prison medical staff to not move forward with a procedure to insert a tube through his nose and into his stomach so he could be fed a nutritional drink. In the video, Coleman tells the staff that he doesn't need the nourishment.
"I am functioning to the best of my ability and granted I can't go on long walks but I can sit and stretch my legs and as long as I'm in a decent environment, I continue on the way I am going," said Coleman. "This is a grossly inappropriate procedure."
Medical Director for the Department of Corrections, Dr. Edward Blanchette, can also be heard on the videotape repeatedly asking Coleman to voluntarily drink the nutrional supplement so they wouldn't have to force-feed him. On the tape, Blanchette explains why the medical staff needs to begin the procedure.
"He has reached the point now where the physicians, myself included, feel we must begin some nutritional support," said Blanchette. "Otherwise, his health will be severely in danger with the risk of sudden death."
At the time of this video, October 23, 2008, Coleman had lost almost 100 lbs since he began his hunger strike in 2007.
The state is asking the judge to grant a permanent injunction to continue the force-feedings. Coleman is expected to continue his testimony Wednesday morning.  He's been in prison since 2005 after being convicted of rape.