Former Oklahoma Jail Superintendant And Assistant Superintendant Sentenced For Using Excessive Force
MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – Raymond A. Barnes, 46, and Christopher A. Brown, 35, the former jail superintendent and assistant jail superintendent, respectively, of the Muskogee County Jail (MCJ), were resentenced in federal court on Feb 15, 2017, on multiple counts of civil rights offenses related to allegations of excessive force on inmates at MCJ on or between August 2009 and May 2011. Brown was also convicted of making material false statements to the FBI. Barnes was sentenced to two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release, and Brown was sentenced to 12 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
On Feb. 25, 2014, a federal jury convicted both Barnes and Brown of conspiring to violate the rights of inmates housed at MCJ by assaulting inmates themselves or by directing other jailers employed by MCJ to do so. Specifically, the defendants did or caused the following to be done: unjustifiably strike, assault, harm and physically punish inmates at MCJ who were restrained, compliant and not posing a physical threat; organize “meet and greets,” whereby jailers would scare, punish and harm incoming inmates from neighboring counties by throwing and slamming the handcuffed inmates to the ground upon their arrival at MCJ; threaten to fire MCJ employees if they reported abusive behavior directly to the sheriff or to outside law enforcement authorities; require and encourage MCJ jailers to write incident reports that falsely justified uses of force and contained misleading or inaccurate accounts of what had occurred when force was used; and perpetuate an environment within MCJ that allowed unlawful beatings and assaults against inmates to continue indefinitely and without consequence.
Both defendants were also found guilty of violating the rights of an inmate identified as J.R. when both defendants slammed and threw J.R. head-first to the ground while he was handcuffed. Barnes was additionally convicted of violating the rights of a second inmate, G.T., for similar conduct. Brown was acquitted of violating the rights of G.T.
In addition, Brown was convicted of one count of making material false statements to the FBI. Brown falsely claimed that, during meet and greets, the incoming inmate was ordered out of the transport vehicle and then “gently placed” on the ground. But in fact, Brown knew at the time of his statement to the FBI that during these meet and greets the MCJ jailers routinely threw and slammed inmates to the ground even though the inmates were restrained and posed no physical threat.
“Corrections officers who use excessive force against inmates in their custody are violating the Constitution and their sworn oaths to uphold it,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Civil Rights Division. “This department will vigorously enforce the civil rights laws of our nation.”
This case was investigated by the Muskogee Resident Agency of the Oklahoma City Division of the FBI and prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Fara Gold and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division.