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Press Release

Fourth Former Tennessee Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty Following Assault of Inmate

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Cadie McAlister, 21, pleaded guilty to a federal offense and admitted concealing other correctional officers’ assault of an inmate while McAlister was serving as an officer with the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

“Correctional officers who conceal unlawful actions of other officers erode public trust and will not be tolerated by the Department of Justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to hold correctional officers accountable for their actions.”

"Correctional officers must abide by and adhere to the same laws they take an oath to uphold and enforce. Instead of serving and protecting the public, this officer actively participated to conceal the use of physical force by other officers to violate the civil rights of an individual. As a result, she will now be held accountable, vividly illustrating that no one is above the law," said U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee.

"When a law enforcement officer violates the civil rights of another, she brings shame on the badge and all law enforcement officers," said Special Agent in Charge M.A. Myers of the FBI Memphis Field Office. "This plea should send a clear message that the FBI makes it a priority to bring any law enforcement officer who violates the constitution and the trust of the people to justice."

With her guilty plea, McAlister admitted that, on Feb. 1, 2019, she and other correctional officers at the Northwest County Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee went to the cell of R.T., an inmate in the mental health unit. Other officers entered the cell while McAlister stood in the doorway. McAlister heard someone ask for the surveillance camera to be covered and saw a correctional officer cover the camera with his hand.

After the camera was covered, McAlister saw an officer repeatedly hit R.T. without any lawful justification. While the officer was hitting R.T., another officer asked McAlister to get paper towels. She brought paper towels back to the cell and provided them to an officer who wet them. She then saw the officer covering the camera put the wet paper towels over the camera. 

McAlister was responsible for regularly updating the logbook in the mental health unit during her shift. However, she failed to document: the arrival of additional officers into the unit; the entry of five officers into R.T.’s cell; that an officer repeatedly hit R.T.; that the camera was covered while the officers were in the cell; that she provided paper towels which were used to cover the camera; or that R.T. remained in his cell bleeding after the correctional officers left. 

With today’s guilty plea, McAlister admitted that she violated 18 U.S.C. § 4 by knowing of a federal felony, failing to notify authorities of the felony, and taking an affirmative step to conceal the felony. The maximum penalty for this offense is three years of imprisonment.

Previously, former correctional officers Nathaniel Griffin, Tanner Penwell, and Carl Spurlin, Jr., entered guilty pleas for criminal offenses arising out of the assault of inmate R.T. 

This case is being investigated by the Memphis Division of the FBI, with the support of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Rebekah J. Bailey of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney David Pritchard of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.

Updated November 20, 2019

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 19-1279