A federal grand jury in Muskogee, Okla., has indicted Raymond A. Barnes, 42, and Christopher A. Brown, 31, the former jail superintendent and assistant jail superintendent, respectively, of the Muskogee County Jail (MCJ) on multiple counts of civil rights offenses related to allegations of excessive force on inmates at MCJ on or between August 2009 and May 2011. Brown is also charged with making material false statements to the FBI.
The indictment charges both Barnes and Brown with one count of conspiring to violate the rights of inmates housed at MCJ by assaulting inmates themselves or by directing other jailers employed by MCJ to do so. Specifically, the indictment alleges that as part the conspiracy, the defendants did the following: unjustifiably strike, assault, harm and physically punish inmates at MCJ who were restrained, compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone; organize “meet and greets,” whereby jailers would scare, punish and harm incoming inmates from neighboring counties by throwing and slamming the handcuffed inmates to the ground upon their arrival at the MCJ; threaten to fire MCJ employees if they reported abusive behavior directly to the sheriff or to outside law enforcement authorities; require and encourage MCJ jailers to write incident reports that falsely justified uses of force and contained misleading or inaccurate accounts of what had occurred when force was used; and perpetuate an environment within the MCJ that allowed unlawful beatings and assaults against inmates to continue indefinitely and without consequence.
The indictment further charges the defendants with aiding and abetting each other in violating the rights of two different inmates when the MCJ jailers slammed and threw the inmates to the ground while they were handcuffed. The indictment alleges that these offenses resulted in bodily injury.
Brown is additionally charged with one count of making material false statements to the FBI. According to the indictment, Brown falsely claimed that during “meet and greets,” when an inmate from an out-of-county jail arrives at MCJ, the inmate is ordered out of the transport vehicle, and then is “gently placed” on the ground. The indictment alleges that this was false in that the defendant knew at the time of his statement to the FBI that during “meet and greets,” when an inmate arrived from an out-out-county jail, the MCJ jailers routinely threw and slammed inmates to the ground even though the inmates were restrained and not posing a physical threat to anyone.
Barnes and Brown face a maximum penalty of 10 years for each of the three civil rights offenses. Brown faces a maximum penalty of five years for making material false statements to the FBI.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Muskogee Resident Agency of the Oklahoma City Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Fara Gold and Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.