United States Department of Justice
United States Attorney Robert J. Troester
Western District of Oklahoma
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Former Oklahoma Corrections Supervisor Convicted of Facilitating White Supremacist Assault on Black Inmates, Ordering Other Abuse
OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal jury in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has convicted a former supervising correctional officer from Kay County, Oklahoma, of violating the civil rights of three pretrial detainees held at the Kay County Detention Center (KCDC). Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Robert Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma made the announcement.
The jury convicted Matthew Ware, 53, of willfully depriving two remand prisoners of their right to be free of a prison officer’s willful indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm and of willfully depriving a third inmate remanded the right to be free of a corrections officer’s excessive use of force. He was taken into the custody of the US Marshals Service yesterday after the jury delivered its verdict.
“This senior corrections official had a duty to ensure that the civil rights of remand prisoners in his custody were not violated,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice‘s Civil Rights Division. Justice. “The defendant abused his power and authority by ordering junior prison officers to violate the constitutional rights of several remand prisoners. The Civil Rights Division will continue to hold corrections officials accountable when they violate the civil rights of inmates and inmates.
“Criminal conduct by any corrections employee violates the public trust and unfairly tarnishes the reputation of all corrections officials who honorably perform their important work every day,” said U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester for the Western District. from Oklahoma. “This verdict demonstrates our continued commitment to protecting the civil rights of all Oklahomans, including those in custody. I salute the outstanding work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Barry and General Counsel Laura Gilson, who vigorously pursued this case, as well as FBI special agents and other law enforcement officials who conducted this investigation.
“Preserving civil rights and investigating violations of the color of the law are of the FBI’s highest priority,” said Special Agent in Charge Ed Gray of the FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office. “If we don’t hold accountable our own law enforcement officials, those who are sworn to protect and serve, what hope will the American people have?” Mr. Ware’s actions were unconscionable and outrageous, especially given his leadership role. His conviction is a quick reminder that no one is above the law.
Evidence and testimony revealed that on May 18, 2017, when Ware was serving as a KCDC lieutenant, he ordered lower-ranking prison officers to move two black remand inmates, D’Angelo Wilson and Marcus Miller, into a cell. white supremacist inmates whom Ware knew posed a danger to Wilson and Miller. Later that same day, Ware issued a second order to lower-ranking officers: unlock the jail cells of Wilson and Miller, and those other white supremacist inmates at the same time the next morning. When Ware’s orders were followed, the white supremacist inmates attacked Wilson and Miller, resulting in physical injuries to both, including a facial laceration to Wilson that required seven stitches to close.
Evidence and testimony also revealed that on January 31, 2018, when Ware was acting captain of the KCDC, he ordered a lower-ranking prison officer to restrain another remand prisoner, Christopher Davis, in a prone position – with Davis’ left wrist restrained to the far left of the bench and his right wrist restrained to the far right of the bench – in retaliation for Davis sending a memo criticizing the way Ware was running the KCDC. Davis was held in this position for 90 minutes, resulting in physical injury.
Ware faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of probation and a fine of up to $250,000 for each offense. Sentencing will take place in approximately 90 days.
The case was investigated by the FBI Field Office in Oklahoma City. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia Barry of the Western District of Oklahoma and Trial Attorney Laura Gilson of the Civil Rights Division sued