by Max Brantley
... while acting under his authority as jail administrator, he approached a group of inmates, who were detained together in cell 33 and told them to “handle” the victim. Branscum then moved the victim, who had been housed in a neighboring cell, into cell 33. When the victim realized he was about to be assaulted and attempted to leave the cell, Branscum forced the victim inside and then allowed the victim to be beaten as instructed. During the assault, the victim was repeatedly punched and his head was knocked into a windowsill, causing a head wound and other injuries.One of the inmates who carried out the beating, Matthew McConniel, received probation today. Another inmate who took part in the beating, James Beckham, also was sentenced earlier to probation.
“This corrections officer abused his power to order a violent assault against a prisoner,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We expect and entrust corrections officers with the responsibility to care for and protect inmates in their custody. When corrections officers fail to uphold that oath, their actions corrode our justice system’s fundamental values and create an environment that is more dangerous for inmates as well as officers.”