A former Metro Transit Police officer accused of trying to support ISIS terror “could see himself dying soon” behind bars, according to a lawsuit he’s filed against the Alexandria Sheriff, which oversees the jail in which the officer is being held.
Nicholas Young, who was arrested in August on a federal charge of attempting to support a terror group, has lost 7 to 10 pounds since his arrest and is suffering an “acute deterioration in mental health” while in custody, according to his suit.
Young is being held in the Alexandria jail as he awaits further court proceedings. In his lawsuit, Young said he is being held in solitary confinement in an 8-foot wide cell for 22 hours each day. The solitude is contributing to a breakdown in his health, Young said in his suit. Young said the confinement also could impact his legal case. In his lawsuit, attorneys said solitary confinement “could coerce Mr. Young into pleading guilty to charges to which may have meritorious defenses.”
Through his suit, Young is seeking a transfer from solitary confinement to the jail’s general population.
According to the lawsuit, “(Young) recently bit off a portion of a tooth while grinding his teeth in a paroxysm of stress, for which (deputies) informed Mr. Young he could not expect to receive medical assistance for several days.” His suit also said Young has notified his attorney he “could see himself dying soon” in custody. It said Young “is apparently the only detainee currently held in solitary confinement not charged with, and without a history of, violence.”
Young, of Fairfax, is accused of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He was arrested at Metro headquarters in early August. It's the first time a law enforcement officer has been accused of aiding the terrorist organization. Young, 36, met on 20 separate occasions with an FBI informant whom he believed was a man being radicalized, prosecutors said. He sent the man 22 digital gift card codes to be used with mobile messaging accounts that ISIS uses in recruiting, according to prosecutors.
Young served with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Police department for 13 years. In recent years, he was working his job while under investigation and surveillance, according to multiple reports and his lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, Young’s attorneys received an explanation from the sheriff about the use of solitary confinement. The suit said, “On September 15 and 16, 2016 undersigned counsel received a phone call, and follow up email, from Sheriff (Dana) Lawhome, which clarified the following: Mr. Young is being held in 22-hour-a-day isolation 'for his own safety'; notwithstanding the deleterious effects of constant isolation on Mr. Young's health and well-being, Mr. Young will not be moved to the general population unless and until the press coverage of Mr. Young's case diminishes.”
“The conditions of Mr. Young’s detainment are for the U.S. Marshals and the Alexandria Detention Center to decide," said Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. "We take no position on the matter.”
"The Alexandria Detention Center does not have solitary confinement," the sheriff's office said in a statement. "Mr. Young has been placed in the appropriate housing unit based on the recommendation of our experienced classification staff. In this case, he is in administrative segregation, meaning he does not have contact with other inmates, which is for his own protection. Sheriff Lawhorne has monitored Mr. Young’s situation since the day he arrived and he has corresponded with Mr. Young’s family and his attorney on numerous occasions."
Young’s civil suit has been assigned to an Alexandria-based judge.
The next court proceeding in his criminal case is scheduled for November. Young faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.