Here’s another incident of police violence to watch.
Today, the Department of Justice announced that Damon Hickman and William Howell, two jailers at the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard, Kentucky, are being indicted on civil rights charges stemming from the 2013 death of Larry Trent. The indictment charges Hickman and Howell with using unnecessary force in the altercation with and beating of Kent. They are both charged with subsequently falsifying records to deny Kent critical medical services after the beating, which allegedly led to his death. According to the DOJ:
The indictment charges Damon Hickman, 38, and William Howell, 59, with causing Trent’s death, and charges Hickman with attempting to cover up his involvement in the death.
Hickman and Howell are charged with federal civil rights violations for depriving Trent of his civil rights. Count one of the indictment charges Hickman and Howell of failing to provide Trent
necessary medical care after he was injured, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Trent, which resulted in Trent’s death. Count two of the indictment also charges both defendants with using excessive force against Trent, resulting in bodily injury to him.
Hickman is additionally charged with one count of obstruction of justice for falsifying an official log by indicating that observations of Trent were being made and that Trent was “10-4,” meaning that he was safe and not in obvious physical distress, when in fact Trent was not “10-4.”
According to local CBS affiliate WYMT-TV, Trent was in pre-trial detention for a DUI arrest and had struggled with alcohol addiction. Jail administrators characterized the beating as a “mistake,” although the jailers broke code and initiated contact with Trent. WYMT-TV also reports that there were other guards present who saw the beating and did not stop it.
The civil rights indictment is also worth monitoring given the spate of recent officer-involved killings where officers did not attempt or accommodate life-saving measures after shootings or beatings of suspects and other people in custody.