Pinckneyville prison guard admits civil rights violation in beating of shackled …

An acting lieutenant at Pinckneyville Correctional Center appeared admitted in U.S. District Court for Southern Illinois Wednesday that he failed to intervene while his subordinates beat a restrained inmate.

Mark C. Maxwell, 52, of Pinckneyville, faces up to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of deprivation of civil rights under color of law.

He was charged for standing by while two other correctional officers punched and kicked an inmate who was handcuffed and shackled in leg irons. The victim suffered a fractured orbital socket, a partially collapsed lung, and needed 25 stitches to close lacerations to his face.

Under federal law, officers have a duty to intervene if a fellow officer uses excessive force.

Cord A. Williams, 35, of Vergennes, and Christian L. Pyles, 25, of Christopher, were charged in the same indictment and have each pleaded guilty to violation of civil rights, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice.

The indictment alleged that Williams and Pyles “colluded with other officers to file false reports about the incident,” which occurred on April 24, 2022.

According to court documents, the inmate, who is identified only as J.T. “ was outside walking from the prison cafeteria back to his housing unit when he got into a verbal dispute with other inmates who were inside a different housing unit.”

A correctional officer tried to handcuff J.T., but the inmate spun around and punched the him in the head, knocking him to the ground, the indictment states.

Other officers assisted and an officer working “in the tower” immediately announced a “Code 1” over the radio, alerting others that an officer was in distress. J.T. was placed in leg irons and handcuffed, the indictment states.

“He was escorted from the prison yard to an evaluation room inside the prison’s Health Care Unit where he was subjected to a retaliatory beating despite being fully restrained in handcuffs and leg irons,” the indictment states.

The falsified reports filed by the officers claimed that after J.T. was taken to an evaluation room, he continued to be combative, attempted to kick staff, verbally threatened staff, and was physically secured on the floor to prevent further staff assault.

“The various narrative reports were prepared to make it appear that force was used in a good faith effort to gain compliance over an unruly inmate,” the indictment states. “The reports were materially false because once he arrived at the Health Care Unit, J.T. was not combative, did not attempt to kick staff, did not make verbal threats, and was not secured on the floor to prevent staff assault.

“Force was not used in good faith to gain compliance over an unruly inmate. “

Maxwell was not charged with direct involvement in the beating, but that he knowingly failed to intervene to stop the excessive beating. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2023.

The Illinois State Police is leading the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft is prosecuting the case.

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