A former sergeant in the Alabama Department of Corrections was found guilty Thursday of crimes committed in assaulting a defenseless prisoner at Staton Correctional Facility.
A federal jury in Montgomery convicted former Correctional Sergeant Devlon Williams last week for using excessive force against an inmate at Staton Correctional Facility and preparing a false report to cover up his unlawful behavior.
Staton, along with adjoining Elmore and Draper Correctional Facilities, forms a correctional complex in Elmore, Alabama, that incarcerates approximately 2,400 people.
Federal prosecutors presented evidence at trial that, on March 8, 2018, Mr. Williams repeatedly punched and kicked an incarcerated man in the main hallway at Staton and struck him with a collapsible baton. The man, identified in court documents as D.H., “was on the ground and not resisting or posing a threat to any person or corrections officer,” according to the Justice Department.
The government presented evidence that, after the assault, Mr. Williams and another corrections officer, Larry Managan Jr., attempted to cover up the attack by making false statements to investigators and preparing a false report about the incident.
Mr. Williams was found guilty of deprivation of rights under color of law, falsification of records, and obstruction of justice. Mr. Managan pleaded guilty in 2021 to making false statements.
Mr. Williams is one of 12 officers who have been arrested, prosecuted, or convicted for assaulting people in their custody at the Elmore/Staton/Draper prison complex in the past two years.
- Sergeant D’Marcus Sanders was charged with murder in association with the killing of Rubyn Murray at Elmore Correctional Facility on July 26, 2023. Mr. Murray reportedly was taken to a holding cell at the back of the prison, where he was beaten and officers were told to ignore his pleas for help. Mr. Murray was found unresponsive and died at Jackson Hospital later that day.
- Officer Ell White was charged with assault for the beating of an incarcerated man on the roof of the chapel at Elmore on September 14, 2022. Mr. White remained working at Elmore even after a report by ADOC’s Investigation and Intelligence Division found he had previously lied to investigators about his involvement in the death of Billy Smith, an incarcerated man who died of blunt force trauma to the head after being assaulted at Elmore in December 2017. Officer Jeremy Singleton was charged with reckless manslaughter in 2019 after he and other officers reportedly hogtied Mr. Smith, beat him, and ignored his pleas for help.
- Sergeant Lorenzo Mills and Officer Xavier Carroll were charged in federal court in April 2022 with assaulting three men at Draper in 2020. The men were not given medical attention until two days later because prison staff failed to report the assault when it happened. Mr. Mills allegedly submitted a false written statement that he had not used any force against the three victims.
- Lieutenant Willie Burks was sentenced to nine years in prison in February 2022 for failing to prevent his subordinate at Elmore, Sergeant Ulysses Oliver, from assaulting two men who were handcuffed and cooperating, and for making false statements to cover up the assault.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Alabama in 2020 alleging that excessive force by correctional officers resulting in serious injuries and deaths is widespread in the state’s prisons.
Federal prosecutors allege that prison staff frequently minimize or omit descriptions of injuries in incident reports, which contributes to incarcerated people’s unreasonable risk of serious harm.