An Alabama county sheriff has pleaded guilty to beating an unarmed, handcuffed man. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Keith McCray, a criminal investigator at the Macon County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office, admitted to violating the civil rights of the prisoner on Independence Day last year.
McCray has been found guilty of one felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law. He now faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
“While we look to law enforcement to maintain the safety and security of our citizens, their position of authority does not give them the right to act outside the bounds of the law,” said George Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. “We trust them to protect and serve our communities. While most members of law enforcement serve honorably, McCray breached this trust and must be held accountable. Failure to do so would discredit the noble service of every other officer, and weaken the public’s trust in those who are sworn to protect them.”
The incident occurred on July 4, 2013 when McCray arrested a door-to-door salesman in Tuskegee, Alabama. McCray then took the man, who had been selling alarm systems, to the Macon County Jail. According to court documents, McCray then struck the salesman four times in the face and head, all while the man was handcuffed and, according to the Justice Department, “posed no threat.”
“The defendant attacked an innocent citizen who was simply trying to earn a living on the day of the incident,” said Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. “When he assaulted the defenseless victim, he violated the trust put in him by the community as well as the law. The Department will continue to hold accountable those who abuse their authority.”