Alabama Prison Guards Arrested for Severely Beating Elderly Imprisoned Man


Two Alabama correctional officers were arrested last week and charged with assault in the severe beating of an elderly man who is imprisoned at Limestone Correctional Facility in Harvest, Alabama.

Officers Samuel Dial and Jesse Cobb were charged with first degree felony assault for using a broom handle to strike William Rhinesmith, 75, and causing serious physical injury.

EJI received multiple reports about the assault, which occurred on October 19, 2023—just two weeks after Mr. Rhinesmith was transferred to Limestone to serve a five-year sentence.

The officers reportedly took Mr. Rhinesmith to an area outside of the prison dormitories and away from security cameras to assault him. Mr. Rhinesmith was then sent back into the dormitory, where witnesses reported he was bleeding from both ears and had lacerations on his face and eyes.

Another officer who saw his injuries had Mr. Rhinesmith sent to the infirmary. The severity of his injuries reportedly required transport to a hospital outside the prison.

On November 3, after returning from the hospital, Mr. Rhinesmith was transferred from Limestone to a different prison.

Alabama public records indicate that Samuel Dial, 32,  and Jesse Cobb, 35, were still employed by the Alabama Department of Corrections on February 16. An ADOC spokesperson told WHNT News that the two had been assigned to “non-contact posts” pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has a long history of violence and abuse by officers against incarcerated people.

In December 2019, four days after Michael Smith was killed by prison guards at Ventress Correctional Facility, then-commissioner Jefferson Dunn announced that ADOC had formed an internal task force to examine violence in state prisons, including the use of excessive force by staff.

Michael Smith, 55, was beaten to death by correctional officers on December 5, 2019—less than three months after Steven Davis died after officers at Donaldson Correctional Facility sprayed him with mace and struck him repeatedly in the head.

The commissioner assured Alabamians that ADOC was “taking swift and substantive action to create safer working and living conditions, better ensure policy adherence, and deter unacceptable behavior by both inmates and ADOC staff.”

But more than four years later, the task force has not publicly released any findings or recommendations, and Alabama correctional officers—many of them supervisors—continue to violently attack the people in their custody.

  • In October 2020, Sgt. Lorenzo Mills assaulted three incarcerated men outside the shift office at Draper Correctional Facility and beat them with a baton. One man suffered broken bones but did not receive treatment for two days because Sgt. Mills and Officer Xavier Carroll, who witnessed the assault, did not report it.
  • In February 2022, Lt. Mohammad Jenkins assaulted Victor Russo at Donaldson Correctional Facility by repeatedly beating and kicking him, spraying him with chemical agents, and striking him with a shoe while he was handcuffed and compliant in a holding cell. Lt. Jenkins later wrote a false incident report and lied to investigators about what happened, but the assault was captured on surveillance video and he was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison.
  • In September 2022, video at Elmore Correctional Facility captured Officer Ell White climbing onto the roof of the prison chapel and repeatedly punching 44-year old Jimmy Norman, who appeared to be in distress. ADOC said in a statement that officers were “attempt[ing] to escort Norman off the roof.”
  • In January 2023, video at Ventress Correctional Facility showed Capt. Timothy McCorvey dragging Brandon Crosby into the hallway outside a dormitory and punching him before and after he was placed in handcuffs. Mr. Crosby died later that day from blunt force trauma. Capt. McCorvey was found to have used “excessive and unnecessary force” and the warden recommended his dismissal, but the Alabama Personnel Board voted to reinstate him minus a 10-day suspension and he remains employed by ADOC.
  • In July 2023, Sgt. Demarcus Sanders was charged with murder following the death of Rubyn Murray at Elmore Correctional Facility. ADOC told reporters that Mr. Murray “was injured during a fight with correctional officers outside his cell,” but the indictment alleged that Sgt. Sanders caused his death “by using fists and feet.”

Since 2019, EJI has identified at least 89 ADOC employees who have been criminally charged or administratively sanctioned for misconduct within Alabama prisons. In 30 of these cases, the offending officers were supervisors.