(U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE NEWS RELEASE) – A federal grandjury returned an indictment charging Jonathan York and Tommy Morris, two formercorrectional officers at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville,Tennessee, with federal civil rights, conspiracy, and obstruction offenses,announced Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department ofJustice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney for the Western District ofTennessee D. Michael Dunavant, and FBI-Memphis Special Agent in Charge M.A.Myers.
The indictment alleges that, on Feb. 1, 2019,Correctional Officer Jonathan York and other officers entered the cell of aninmate identified by the initials R.T. York allegedly directed a fellowcorrectional officer to cover the surveillance camera in the cell and then herepeatedly punched R.T. York allegedly directed another officer to hit R.T. Athird officer also punched R.T. As a result of the unjustified use of force bythe officers, R.T. suffered bodily injury.
The indictment alleges that Corporal Tommy Morrisviolated R.T.’s civil rights when Morris knew of the unjustified staff assaulton R.T., but failed to intervene to stop the officers. The indictmentcharges Morris and York with conspiring to cover up the use of unlawful forceon R.T. Finally, the indictment charges Morris with obstructing justice byencouraging correctional officers to provide false and misleading informationabout the circumstances surrounding the injuries R.T suffered.
The defendants face statutory maximum sentences of 10years for the civil rights count; five years for the conspiracy charge; and 20years for each obstruction count.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminalconduct, not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent untilproven guilty.
Former correctional officers Cadie McAlister,Nathaniel Griffin, Tanner Penwell, and Carl Spurlin Jr. entered guilty pleasfor criminal offenses arising out of the assault of inmate R.T.
This case was investigated by the Memphis Division ofthe FBI with the support of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and isbeing prosecuted by Trial Attorney Rebekah J. Bailey of the JusticeDepartment’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant United States Attorney DavidPritchard of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.