Three Rikers Island guards charged in 2012 beating death of sickly inmate

The death was ruled a homicide but prosecutors refused to pursue charges.

By Andrew V. Pestano

NEW YORK, June 10 (UPI) -- Three prison guards were charged in connection to the 2012 beating death of sickly Rikers Island inmate Ronald Spear, in a case where the officers conspired to make it seem that use of force was required.

Spear, 52, walked with a cane as he was suffering from end-stage renal disease and required regular dialysis treatment. He was awaiting trial for a burglary charge when he got into a verbal argument with a guard in a Rikers Island infirmary when he requested a doctor.


Spear was then held down on the floor by prison guards while Brian Coll, a correctional officer, kicked Spear repeatedly in the head and chest, killing him.

"Remember that I'm the one who did this to you," Coll bent down and told Spear during the event.

The death was ruled a homicide but prosecutors refused to pursue charges.

Coll, who is no longer a correctional officer, was charged with crimes including deprivation of rights under color of law and obstruction of justice. The charges were announced by federal prosecutors in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Byron Taylor was charged with conspiring to obstruct justice and lying in the grand jury proceeding. Taylor helped pin down Spear during the incident and attempted to cover up the event.


Coll and Taylor were arrested on Wednesday.

Anthony Torres, a former corrections officer, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The Spears family said they hope the charges "will bring justice for the officers who killed Ronald and covered up his death and also shine a window of accountability into the violence and corruption that pervades Rikers Island."

There are about 11,000 inmates in Rikers Island.

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