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Press Release

Former Prison Guard Pleads Guilty to Using Excessive Force, Obstructing Justice

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Illinois
Lauren Barry, Public Affairs Officer

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. – A former correctional officer at Pinckneyville Correctional Center pled guilty to federal charges for beating a restrained inmate.

Christian L. Pyles, 25, of Christopher, Illinois, pled guilty in a U.S. District courtroom to violating the inmate’s civil rights by using excessive force under color of law and conspiracy to obstruct justice by falsifying incident reports.

Former officer Cord A. Williams, 35, of Vergennes, Illinois, was also charged in the indictment and pled guilty on July 18. The charges arose from an incident in which an inmate was beaten while fully restrained in handcuffs and leg irons on April 24, 2022.

According to court documents, the beating occurred to punish the inmate, because the inmate had previously punched a different correctional officer. The act of retaliation caused the inmate to suffer severe injuries including facial fractures, multiple lacerations requiring 25 stitches, a chipped tooth and lung damage.

As part of their official duties, correctional officers are required to write incident reports to accurately document any unusual incidents they observe or are reported to them, including disturbances or the use of force. The conspiracy count states Williams, Pyles and others colluded to file false reports about the incident and undermine the amount of force used.

Pyles is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2024, and the sentence hearing for Williams is set for Nov. 6, 2023. The deprivation of civil rights charge is punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison while the conspiracy to obstruct justice charge can result in up to five years imprisonment.

The Illinois State Police are leading the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft is prosecuting the case.

Updated October 13, 2023