Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Human Rights: Corrections Officers who allegedly used prisoner's head to open steel door, face death sentence for Federal Civil Rights Violation

A federal grand jury indictment was unsealed today in Oklahoma City charging corrections officers Gavin Littlejohn, 25, of Oklahoma City, and Justin Isch, 21, of Edmond, Okla., with a federal civil rights violation for the fatal assault of Christopher Beckman at the Oklahoma County Detention Center in May 2007, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney John C. Richter for the Western District of Oklahoma and James Finch, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Oklahoma City Field Office.

The indictment alleges that on May 26, 2007, at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, corrections officers Isch and Littlejohn assaulted Beckman and used excessive force amounting to punishment resulting in bodily injury and the death of Beckman. Specifically, it is alleged that officer Isch allegedly used Beckman's head to open a steel door and officer Littlejohn repeatedly struck Beckman about his head and face.

Littlejohn and Isch were arrested this afternoon without incident. Both men appeared for arraignment this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Valerie Couch. The court ordered the defendants released on bond under certain conditions pending trial.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The maximum possible penalties for the civil rights violations are life in prison, without the possibility of parole, or death. By statute, the Attorney General must decide whether or not to pursue a sentence involving the death penalty.

The case was investigated by the Oklahoma City Division of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Dickerson Cox from the U.S. Attorney's Office and Trial Attorney Michael Khoury from the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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