Three former Alabama Department of Corrections officers were arrested Monday after a federal grand jury charged them in the beating death of an inmate inside a state prison in south Alabama.
Prosecutors say 37-year-old Michael Smith, 43-year-old Matthew Davidson and 31-year-old Joseph Sanders participated in the beating and conspired with each other and other officers to cover up what happened. It was not immediately clear whether they had lawyers.
Inmate Rocrast Mack, 24, was severely beaten at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton on Aug. 4, 2010. He died from his injuries the next day at a Montgomery hospital.
All three former corrections officers face charges including felony civil rights violations, obstruction of justice-related violations, and making false statements to the FBI. Davidson and Sanders are charged with assaulting Mack, causing injuries. Smith is also charged with assaulting Mack, causing injuries and death.
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Smith was a lieutenant and supervised Davidson and Sanders, who worked the same shift. Smith had already been arrested in October after a Barbour County grand jury charged him with murder.
Another former corrections officer at Ventress, Scottie Glenn, pleaded guilty on Nov. 18 to one count of violating Mack's civil rights and one count of conspiring with other corrections officers to cover up the beating. Glenn admitted in court that he took Mack in handcuffs to an office at the prison, knowing that Mack would be beaten in retaliation for something that had happened earlier. He also testified that he and other officers lied in written reports and lied to investigators.
The state Department of Corrections fired Smith and Officer Melissa A. Brown after Mack was beaten to death. Four other employees resigned during an investigation by the department.
Mack was serving a 20-year prison sentence from a February 2009 drug conviction when he was beaten. At the time, prison officials said he struck a female guard first and he continued resisting when officers tried to restrain him.
That explanation changed upon further investigation.
State personnel records obtained by The Associated Press last year through an open records request indicated that Brown struck the inmate first and that the lieutenant advised her to say that Mack hit her first. The records showed Smith and Brown were fired for violating several department rules, including the unauthorized use of physical force and lying about an investigation.
If convicted, Smith faces a maximum penalty of life in prison or the death penalty. Davidson faces up to 105 years in prison, and Sanders faces up to 75 years in prison.