Two Long Island, New York men, one a former prison guard, the other a current Riker’s Island corrections officer, have been charged with civil rights violations and conspiracy in connection with the 2012 beating death of a man who was awaiting trial.

Prosecutors said that Brian Coll, 45, the former officer, who repeatedly kicked Ronald Spear while he was restrained.  Coll was charged with deprivation of rights and conspiracy to obstruct justice, among other charges.  His colleague, Byron Taylor, 31, was also charged with obstruction of justice.  A third officer, Anthony Torres, 31, pled guilty last week to conspiracy to obstruct justice and filing false reports.

Spear, 52, was pronounced dead shortly after the beating.  At the time, he was accused of burglary.

“As I have said before, Rikers inmates, although walled off from the rest of society, are not walled off from the protections of our Constitution,” said Manhattan US Attorney Breet Bharara.

The incident and subsequent cover up occurred in the early morning hours of December 19, 2012 inside the North Infirmary Command wing of the infamous prison.

Spear who was receiving dialysis treatments for kidney disease had left the housing area wanting to meet with the on duty doctor.  He was stopped by Coll, who told him he couldn’t see the doctor.  An altercation occurred where Spear and Coll both punched at each other. After Spear was restrained by Taylor and Torres, Coll is accused of punching him in the face and stomping on his head.  Inmates who were nearby yelled, “They’re killing him!”

An unidentified officer yelled “No, don’t!” as Coll continued to kick and stomp on Spear, who was lying on the ground.

Coll allegedly yelled, “That’s what you get for f***ing with me!

Inmates also told prosecutors that the two had been in an incident a few days beforehand. Spear was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy determined that Spear died from high blood pressure with “blunt force trauma” being a contributing cause.

Coll, Taylor, and Torres then covered up the incident by inventing a false story.  They said that Spear attacked Coll with a cane.  There was never a cane recovered. A fourth officer, who cooperated with prosecutors, agreed to the false narrative.  Taylor also convinced everyone to keep him out of the reports, “I wasn’t here.” Spear was being held in the area of the prison where prisoners with serious or chronic medical problems are held.

Coll and Taylor face up to 70 and 40 years, respectively.

The city of New York paid Spear’s family $2.75 million for wrongful death.


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