The mother of an inmate at a Georgia correctional facility was shocked when she discovered that her son was in a disturbing viral image after he had been beaten and had something leashed around his neck.
Cortez Berry, who just turned 18 last week, can be seen in the photo with an eye swollen shut and something around his neck resembling a leash with two other inmates standing behind him. The picture was taken at Al Burruss Correctional Training Center and somehow uploaded to Facebook Friday.
“I was like oh my God! What happened? How’d it happen? It’s a terrifying picture to see,” Berry’s mother Demetria Harris told WRDW.
The photo was posted, bearing the caption: “When you disrespect the Nation, it brings nothing but pain and suffering,” which officials believe may be a reference to the gang G. D. (“gangsta disciples”) Nation.
Harris is demanding answers to many questions about the incident: Where were the guards? How were the other inmates able to get access to a cell phone?
“I want justice for him,” she said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to get it for him, because at the end of the day, he don’t deserve this. No one deserves this.”
Berry’s aunt, Shavondria Wright, was able to visit him on Saturday to ask him what happened.
“Ten people jumped on him and just kept beating him and they choked him to sleep. Pretty much they left him there for dead,” Wright said.
“We could’ve lost him,” she added. “He could’ve been dead. Especially when they hung the belt around his neck. He could’ve just been gone.”
Berry is serving time after he was arrested in 2011 at the age of 14 for assault, robbery and car theft. He was sentenced to 8 and a half years.
The Department of Corrections said that the matter is part on an ongoing investigations. The area of the jail where the image was taken has been placed under lockdown.