Alabama prison guard charged with assaulting deceased inmate
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama prison officer has been charged with using excessive force against an inmate who later died, the state prison system said Thursday.
Lt. Mohammad Jenkins was arrested on Wednesday for second-degree assault, the Alabama Department of Corrections wrote in a news release.
The prison system said an investigation found evidence Jenkins used excessive force against inmate Victor Russo during an altercation on February 16. Russo died in a Birmingham hospital on February 25, two days after being found unconscious in his cell.
Jenkins resigned from the Donaldson Correctional Facility following his arrest.
“ADOC condemns all violence at its facilities and the excessive use of force by ADOC personnel is not tolerated,” the department said.
The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office reported last month that Russo apparently suffered blunt force trauma, but it was unclear whether that caused his death. His cellmate had reported that Russo had passed out, the prison system announced last month.
Court records were not immediately available to show whether Jenkins had an attorney to comment.
The department said Thursday that the death was still under investigation and that the prison system would work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office “to complete a thorough investigation, including the ‘examination of the results of the autopsy’.
The US Department of Justice in 2020 filed a lawsuit against Alabama accusing the state of failing to protect male inmates from inmate-to-inmate violence and excessive force by prison staff. The state, while acknowledging problems with the prison system, disputed the Justice Department’s charges.
Russo was serving a life sentence for murder following a 1987 conviction in Jefferson County.
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