Shawna Cox Contradicts Sheriff Mack
*Editor’s note: When the family was offered the opportunity to view the videos, they were required to watch a couple of hours of recordings pertaining to prison policy, etc. There were more than 2 hours of preliminaries before being able to view the hours of videos relating to Ammon. The shear length of time involved was excessive for most of the family’s schedules. They asked Shawna to step in and be one of the witnesses.
“We never hurt anybody. My dad gave away food to hundreds of needy people. You came to hurt us, we did not come to hurt you.” ~ Audio of Ammon Bundy in prison videos.
We recently heard Sheriff Richard Mack’s perception of the video made by the Nevada Southern Detention Center staff regarding the confrontation between prison staff and Ammon and Ryan Bundy.
Sheriff Mack goes into detail on his perception of events which can be found in this radio interview.
Shawna Cox was able to see all the videos. There were six of them. Only one other family member, a cousin, was able to see the videos.
On May 24, 2017, I spoke with Shawna Cox and took notes from the conversation. She will be repeating her version on an interview with K-TALK radio in Salt Lake City on May 25. I assume a recording of that interview will be available in the station archives.
The perceptions of the prison videos between Mack and Cox are significantly different.
Cox said that there were six videos and that the quality of some of the videos were bad. even at times lacked audio. She emphasized the fact that the videos were not continuous but were stopped and started, leaving out important events and not catching everything that happened.
She also noted that the courteous and seeming reasonable manner of speech by the prison staff was theatrical and contrived, because they knew they were on video. The staff controlled the narrative and what was captured on film because they controlled the camera.
Cox stated that none of the top bunks were occupied in the pod where Bundy was located. The use of shirts hanging from beds was a long standing practice by many inmates who were on the lower bunks trying to block the bright light so that they could sleep.
The first video does not include audio and it is grainy but she said she could see what looked like Ammon and Ryan being approached by the guards. The video shows the guard seizing the shirt from Ammon’s bed and him objecting. Ryan retrieves the shirt from the guard and then it is over and done with.
About ½ hour later, 5 men enter through door, that ends the grainy video.
A better video shows Ryan taken to the hall. Now there is audio and Ryan is told that they just need to talk to him, that is all. Ammon requests assurance that they are not going to do anything else, he is told they just want to talk with Ryan. Ammon does not trust them and asks supervisor if he can watch it through the window and supervisor gives permission.
Ammon watches as guards place chains on Ryan. Ryan does not resist but continually protests. Ryan is given different clothes which Cox says are like “dunce caps” that are designed to mark you as someone who deserves solitary. Ryan is placed in a shower stall for about an hour.
There is a break in the video so it is difficult to measure time.
Ammon has watched from the window and is visibly and audibly upset. He is heard saying in a very agitated voice, “You lied to me!” After dealing with Ryan, the same men come back for Ammon. He places hands under his chin with clenched fists in order to resist being chained. One of the men was very large, Cox said he could have weighed 500 lbs and it was not muscle.
The large man tries to use his knee to get him to submit. Ammon is very strong and makes it difficult for them, but, eventually they do get him on the floor. Although the video was stopped and started, the beating of Ammon Bundy, while on the floor, can be seen.
Bundy is hauled down the hallway and he is shouting, “You little creeps, you little creeps.” He is then placed in the shower stall.
Cox estimates that the guards visited him about every three hours to see if he was ready to have the handcuffs removed. This is in direct contradiction to Mack saying that the guards came every 10 or 15 minutes. Cox vehemently disagreed and said that it was probably no more than every 3 hours.
Ammon’s policy is that you put me in here against my will, put the cuffs on against my will, so you can come in and take them off. I won’t resist you but I am not going to stick my hands out so you can remove them. Cox repeated that the guards were on their best behavior because they were being filmed.
Cox mentioned that during the time Ammon was protesting he lamented about how his family did not deserve this treatment, how his family had always tried to do the right thing and how his dad helped hundreds of needy people, giving away meat and food. He said, “You came to us. You came to hurt us. We did not go to you to hurt you.”
On the third visit, they spoke to him and Ammon did not answer. The guards made some comment about if he is not going to answer, then he can just live with the consequences.
After 13 hours, 6 guards came dressed in SWAT like gear with helmets and full protection. Cox was sure that two of them were female.
As they brought Ammon out, she could see that he was in his LDS garment (religious clothing) top and his prison pants that were obviously soiled from urine and excrement. Ammon appeared to be very weak and his voice sounded like someone who had a bad case of the flu. He could not walk so they had to carry him. The video shows him face down, being stripped naked, with female staff present. Cox said he sounded terrible.
Although the videos neither confirm nor deny the dislocated shoulder claim, Cox rejects Mack’s assertion that Ammon did not have a dislocated shoulder. Cox said that the handling of Ammon was very rough and that his shoulder could have been dislocated. The fact that he was not screaming in pain does not mean it did not happen, especially since the videos were stopped and started so many times.
Cox also explained why Ammon did not want to see the nurse. The nurse meant being stripped searched. The strip/cavity searches were always done in the presence of a nurse. In the shower stall case, the need to do a strip search made absolutely no sense because there was no opportunity for exchange of contraband.
The strip searches are a form of punishment and knowing how much Ammon hates them, is all the more reason for the staff to use it against him, to punish him and break him down. In Cox’s mind (and in mine), strip searches are literally a rape and a sexual abuse. Mack seemed to play this aspect down.
Cox said she has known Ammon for a long time and has spent many hours with him and has never seen him so angry as he was in the video. Even so, Ammon, who is the epitome of moral cleanliness, could only muster one curse word when he damned the guards to hell.
Cox and I discussed the experiences of other prisoners, especially political prisoners. Unless we have been in their shoes, we have no idea what they are going through. For Mack and his interviewer to take a scolding attitude towards Bundy is reprehensible. Just the strip search alone is torture and abuse regardless of anything else. The fact that other prisoners are willing to go through the strip searches does not make them any less horrific.
Different perceptions by different beholders is acceptable. What is not acceptable is the conclusion. Sheriff Mack concludes that Bundy was misrepresenting the truth without taking into consideration that the filming was erratic and being controlled by the staff to fit their agenda. Mack, who seems to be a very smart guy, somehow missed that and instead of seeing the abuse for what it was, seems to justify it as being somehow a reality that Ammon needs to give into.
Mack points out the elephant in the room, which is that Ammon and the rest of them should not even be there to start with. Rather than quibble over whether he had a dislocated shoulder or not, we should be terrified of this elephant in the room. The elephant of pretrial detention and denial of bail is the supreme abuse that we should all be outraged about.
During the radio interview with Sheriff Mack, the host compared Ammon to Joseph of Egypt and made the claim that Joseph was treated far worse. In spite of his worse circumstances, Joseph behaved in a manner that earned him the respect of the head jailer and eventually the pharaoh.
This was an inappropriate comparison since the host did not have all the details surrounding the situation involving Joseph nor Ammon. To make such a claim is highly judgemental without foundation and is made by an armchair observer who has not experienced what Ammon is going through.
Additionally, Ammon does not claim to be Joseph of Egypt or have his Divine calling. The statement by the host also assumes that the same level of wickedness existed back then as it does today, thereby comparing apples to oranges.