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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Former Alabama Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty to Civil Rights Violations and Obstruction of Justice

Today, Matthew E. Davidson, a former corrections officer of the Alabama Department of Corrections, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Ala., to two counts of violating the civil rights of a former inmate at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Ala., and to one count of conspiring with other corrections officers to obstruct justice by covering up the incident.


Davidson was charged by a grand jury on March 8, 2012, with two counts of felony civil rights violations, four counts of obstruction of justice-related violations and one count of making false statements . These charges stem from an incident that occurred at the Ventress prison on Aug. 4, 2010, when an inmate, 24-year-old Rocrast Mack, was severely beaten, suffered significant injuries and died the following day in a Montgomery hospital.


According to court documents, Davidson admitted that he tackled Mack on the prison yard and punched Mack in the head and upper torso area several times. After this beating on the prison yard, Davidson and former corrections officer Scottie Glenn, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in November 2011, escorted Mack in handcuffs to an office at the prison, knowing that Mack would be beaten again.


According to court documents, Davidson admitted that once the officers were inside the office, they were instructed by a supervisor to remove the handcuffs. After Davidson removed the handcuffs, the supervisor repeatedly stomped on, kicked, hit and struck Mack with a baton. Davidson also admitted that another officer struck Mack with a baton. Mack was severely injured as a result of this beating and was taken to the health care unit in the prison. Once there, Mack was pulled off the examination table by his handcuffs and repeatedly stomped on by the supervisor. Davidson further admitted that he and the other officers obeyed directions from the supervisor to lie in written reports and lie to investigators to cover up the beatings.


Davidson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the civil rights violations and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the obstruction of justice related violation when he is sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson.


“Mr. Davidson admitted that he participated in, and attempted to cover up, the brutal and ultimately fatal assaults of Rocrast Mack,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute corrections officers who violate the constitutional rights of inmates, and who then use their official position to try to cover up their crimes.”


On March 8, 2012, former corrections officers Michael Smith and Joseph Sanders were also charged with felony civil rights violations, obstruction of justice-related violations and false statements violations. Their trial is scheduled to begin on June 10, 2013. Assistant Attorney General Perez and U.S. Attorney Beck emphasized that an indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.


This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha Adams of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama.

Press Release Number: 
Updated September 15, 2014