J. Keith McCray, a criminal investigator with the Macon County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty in federal court today to assaulting a handcuffed man at the county jail, resulting in bodily injury to the victim.
An indictment against McCray, 41, charged that on July 4, 2013, he violated the civil rights of a door-to-door salesman who was selling alarm systems in McCray’s Tuskegee, Ala., neighborhood. At the plea hearing, McCray admitted that he arrested the salesman and transported him to the Macon County Jail. There, McCray struck the victim four times in the face and head while the victim was handcuffed and posed no threat.
McCray pleaded guilty to one felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law. At sentencing, McCray faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“The defendant attacked an innocent citizen who was simply trying to earn a living on the day of the incident,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division. “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.”
“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 U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. 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.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha T. Adams of the Middle District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Chiraag Bains of the Civil Rights Division.