WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Lexington, Ky., returned seven guilty verdicts against two former corrections officers with the Lexington-Fayette County Urban Detention Center (FCUDC), the Justice Department announced today. The defendants, former Sergeant John McQueen, 33, and former Corporal Clarence McCoy, 31, were convicted for conspiring to abuse arrestees at the FCUDC; for actually abusing arrestees; and for obstructing justice by lying about the abuse. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 31, 2010.
Evidence at trial established that defendants McQueen and McCoy conspired with each other and with other officers who worked on their shift at the jail to physically assault inmates and to write false reports to cover it up. The conspiracy charge, for which both defendants were convicted, identified multiple incidents of abuse that occurred between Jan. 1, 2006, and Oct.1, 2006, in which one or more officers assaulted inmates in the intake unit of the jail. The other charges related to specific incidents of abuse, and specific acts of obstruction of justice.
"The power granted to correctional officers so that they can perform their critical public safety duties do not give them free reign to abuse the civil and constitutional rights of inmates under their supervision," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. "Those officers who abuse their power and the public trust in this way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
"Everyone, including jail inmates are entitled to the protection of their civil rights," said E.J Walbourn, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "This case is proof that the Department of Justice will actively pursue and prosecute anyone who violates another person's civil rights no matter their position of authority."
At trial, the government presented testimony from fellow officers at the jail, from victims of the defendants’ abuse, and from former Corporal Scott Tyree, who previously pleaded guilty to being part of the civil rights conspiracy for which defendants McQueen and McCoy were convicted. After four days of trial and approximately 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury convicted the defendants on all counts.
Before trial began, three co-defendants, all former employees of the jail, pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to this case. Former Lieutenant Christine LaFoe pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice; Sergeant Anthony Estep pleaded guilty to a civil rights charge and an obstruction charge for failing to intervene in the abuse of inmates; and former Corporal Scott Tyree pleaded guilty to a civil rights conspiracy charge.
This case was investigated by the Louisville field office of the FBI, and was prosecuted by Jared Fishman and Benjamin Hawk, Trial Attorneys from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney James Arehart.