WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that a federal grand jury has charged Michael Smith, 37, Matthew Davidson, 43, and Joseph Sanders, 31 – former corrections officers of the Alabama Department of Corrections – in a 17-count indictment. The indictment alleges that the officers participated in the beating of an inmate that resulted in bodily injury and the inmate’s death, and that the officers conspired with each other and other officers to cover up the incident.
The indictment charges all three former officers with felony civil rights violations, with obstruction of justice-related violations, and with making false statements to the FBI. Defendants Davidson and Sanders are charged with assaulting the victim, which resulted in bodily injury to the victim. Smith is also charged with assaulting the victim, which resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, the victim. Agents of the FBI and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation arrested all three defendants earlier this morning.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Ala., on Aug.4, 2010, when inmate Rocrast Mack, was severely beaten, suffered significant injuries, and died the following day in a Montgomery, Ala., hospital. As set forth in the indictment, at the time of the incident, Michael Smith was a lieutenant with supervisory authority over other officers on his shift. Davidson and Sanders were corrections officers on the same shift with Smith.
Scottie Glenn, another former corrections officer at Ventress, pleaded guilty on Nov.18, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Montgomery to one count of violating the civil rights of Rocrast Mack for his role in the incident and to one count of conspiring with other corrections officers to cover up the incident. In court, Glenn admitted that he escorted Rocrast Mack in handcuffs to an office at the prison, knowing that Rocrast Mack would be beaten in retaliation for a prior incident. Glenn also admitted that he and other officers, at the direction of another officer, identified in court documents as Officer A, lied in written reports and lied to investigators to cover up the incident.
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum potential penalty of life in prison or the death penalty. Davidson faces a maximum sentence of 105 years in prison. Sanders faces a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison.
This case is being investigated by the Mobile, Ala., Division of the FBI, in partnership with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner of the U.S. Department of Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha Adams of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.