A Texas inmate is suing the state’s prison system, saying he was denied immediate treatment for a flesh-eating bacteria infection he contracted in prison that caused him to go into shock and suffer permanent disfigurement and disability.
Harold Millican, 37, accuses the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the warden of the Gist State Jail of inflicting cruel and unusual punishment by allowing his wound to grow despite pleas for help from both him and his mother.
According to a copy of his suit obtained by HuffPost, Millican, who was serving time for possession of a controlled substance, spent about a week in the Beaumont prison’s infirmary in 2016 for the infection because no one was able to transport him to a hospital.
It wasn’t until the infection on his arm and chest caused him to go into shock and lose consciousness that he was hospitalized on Dec. 15 of that year. His suit, which was filed this month, slams that as “an unreasonable amount of time before the proper care was rendered to him.”
Graphic photos shared by his attorney with HuffPost appear to show Millican’s right arm with a wound stretching from his elbow to just past his wrist. His attorney, Allie Booker, told HuffPost that the photos were taken in December 2016 while he was still in custody, though one photo appears to show him wearing civilian attire.
“They sat up there and watched him suffer,” Booker told the Houston Chronicle. “How can you allow someone to go through that?”
According to Booker, the infection appeared after Millican injured his arm in a fall during a work assignment. The injury didn’t heal properly and he developed a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection.
Jeremy Desel, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said though he cannot comment in detail about the matter because of the pending litigation, there are some inaccuracies in Millican’s claim.
“We believe the allegations in this lawsuit are grossly inaccurate. The offender received both appropriate and timely medical care,” he said in an email to HuffPost on Tuesday.
Millican’s lawsuit claims that before his hospitalization, both he and his mother contacted the prison and warden multiple times, expressing concerns about his injury.
“They stated that the injury smelled extremely foul, was extremely painful and was quickly destroying Plaintiff’s flesh and muscle,” the suit states.
By the time he received adequate treatment, the bacteria had eaten through muscle tissue on his arm and chest causing him to become permanently handicapped and disfigured, his suit claims.
Millican is seeking at least $200,000 and a jury trial.
Jail records show that Millican, whose arrest records date back to 2001, was again arrested in October for evading arrest and sentenced to nearly 10 months in prison in November.
This story has been updated to include comment from Desel and additional details about the photos.