A Somali man who was allegedly beaten while detained at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Aurora is suing the private company who operates it for negligence in the assault.
Mohamed Dirshe was in ICE custody for about a year and a half from 2017 to 2018. During his detention, he was moved to a segregation area because he did not feel safe as a gay man, according to the lawsuit filed in Adams County on June 21. Dirshe said he was beaten by two men not being held by ICE. They were in segregation on disciplinary charges, according to one of his lawyers, Danielle Jefferis.
"I think that this case is just another example of the ways in which ICE and the for-profit companies that run its prisons are operating with total disregard for the people in their custody," Jefferis said. "We've seen a lot of incidents of medical neglect and preventable deaths in the custody of ICE, and this is just another way in which the government is not protecting the people that it's housing."
"He was beaten pretty badly," Jefferis said. "He lost consciousness and that should have never happened in the first place."
At the time, Jefferis said, the facility run by the GEO Group was also housing U.S. Marshals Service detainees. She is arguing the facility should not have put people in disciplinary segregation in the same place as people in protective segregation.
"It's pretty standard corrections practice in our view that people who are in the custody of different entities, or in different custody levels, should not be mixed," she said.
She said that it was GEO's practice to separate those populations.
"But that didn't happen when Mr. Dirshe was moved through the unit on this one occasion where he was assaulted," she said.
A GEO Group spokesperson said, “GEO takes all allegations of assault very seriously. This litigation is ongoing and as a result, we cannot comment any further.”
Dirshe's lawyers filed the lawsuit in Adam's County District Court but GEO's first action was to elevate it to federal court where it is now pending. Both sides will now begin to collect evidence.
"He wants a jury of his peers to hear his story and to understand what is happening in detention," Jefferis said. "There are more and more people going into ICE detention these days than ever and Mr. Dirshe is particularly concerned that steps haven't been put in place since his assault to protect people."
Dirshe was released from ICE custody last year. He won the right to stay in the country under the convention against torture, which protects him from being removed to a country where he will likely be tortured, Jefferis said.