South Florida Corrections Officers Convicted of Federal Civil Rights and Obstruction Charges
WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Miami convicted South Florida Reception Center (SFRC) Corrections Officers Alexander McQueen, 30, and Steven Dawkins, 30, of offenses related to the violation of civil rights of inmates at SFRC. McQueen was convicted of both conspiring to violate the civil rights of inmates and obstruction of justice, while Dawkins was convicted of obstruction of justice. A second jury was unable to reach a verdict with regard to co-defendant Guruba Griffin, 31, and acquitted co-defendant Scott Butler, 32.
According to evidence presented at trial, SFRC corrections officers physically abused inmates by choking, punching and striking them with wooden broom handles. The defendants further forced the inmates to fight one another. Additionally, McQueen and Dawkins falsified reports relating to these incidents.
“These corrections officers pledged to protect and serve, not to victimize and lie,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The criminal behavior of these officers undermines the dedicated efforts of the vast majority of officers who serve honorably. The Justice Department is committed to holding officers who engage in such criminal acts accountable.”
“When those who are sworn to uphold the law and protect others instead abuse their power and position, they undermine the public’s confidence in the justice system and our government institutions,” said Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice are committed to promoting trust in our system of justice by protecting the rights of all citizens to be free from this type of abuse.”
McQueen faces a maximum of 10 years in prison on the civil rights conspiracy charge, and McQueen and Dawkins each face a maximum of 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2012, before U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga.
In announcing the verdict, Assistant Attorney General Perez commended the FBI and the Inspector General’s Office, Florida Department of Corrections, for their investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Henry Leventis and Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Rhee Osborne of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.