Two Correction Officers have been arrested for fatally beating Rikers inmate Ronald Spear and then trying to cover up their actions.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court states that Spear, who suffered from kidney disease, had just postponed a doctor's appointment on December 19th, 2012, when he began arguing with Correction Officer Brian Coll.
According to the complaint, Coll punched Spear in the face, and after other officers restrained the inmate, "continued to kick Spear in the head even after another correction officer told Coll to stop and attempted to shield Spear's head from further blows."
The complaint then states that Coll "put his face inches away from Spear, and stated words to the effect of 'that's what you get for fucking with me,' and 'remember that I'm the one who did this to you,'" before slamming Spear's head on the floor.
Spear later died of his injuries. Initially, authorities claimed that Spear attacked Coll with his cane. But according to the federal complaint, Coll and Correction Officer Byron Taylor, who was restraining Spear during the attack, "agreed to make false statements to multiple investigators about the assault of Ronald Spear…in order to cover up the fact that Coll had unlawfully assaulted Spear by repeatedly kicking Spear in the head after Spear had been restrained."
Last year, the City agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Spear's family for $2.75 million, but Bronx DA Robert Johnson declined to prosecute, saying that his office "did a full investigation of the case, and determined it couldn’t prove criminal responsibility on the officers’ behalf beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Spear, who was 53 when he died, had filed a lawsuit himself regarding his poor medical care on Rikers, and his beating was viewed as retaliation.
Coll is no longer a Correction Officer, but Taylor still works on Rikers.
The criminal complaint, filed by the office of Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, states that both guards "and their co-conspirators repeatedly lied about the assault as agreed, including in official use of force reports that union representatives stressed had to be 'consistent.'" Anthony Torres, another former Correction Officer, has plead guilty to covering up the incident, and is testifying against his colleagues.
Norman Seabrook, the president of the union that represents the Correction Officers, has not responded to our request for comment.
You can read the entire complaint against Coll and Taylor below.