Arkansas sheriff convicted of assaulting two detainees in custody

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute officers who abuse their authority to make clear that no one is above the law.”

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Accused of beating detainees who were not resisting or fighting back, an Arkansas sheriff was recently convicted on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

On November 21, 2018, Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen pushed a detainee identified as “B.E.” onto the floor and grabbed his hair or beard during an interrogation. Two weeks later on December 3, 2018, Sheriff Boen struck a detainee identified as “Z.G.” multiple times in the head while the detainee was shackled to a bench inside the Franklin County Jail and was not resisting.

Both detainees suffered bodily injury as a result of Boen’s actions.

In November 2019, Boen was indicted on three counts of deprivation of rights under color of law. On Monday, a federal jury convicted the sheriff on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

“The defendant abused his power as the top law enforcement officer in Franklin County, Arkansas, by assaulting people in his custody,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a press release. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute officers who abuse their authority to make clear that no one is above the law.”

“Anthony Boen swore an oath to support the United States Constitution and the State of Arkansas Constitution,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas. “His actions clearly violated not only the civil rights of these individuals but also the trust of the people of Franklin County. Cases like this are very important to our office because they involve the most personal and basic of civil rights: the rights to be protected and unharmed while in the custody of law enforcement officers.”

“The vast majority of law enforcement officers in the United States steadfastly protect and serve their communities,” asserted Special Agent in Charge James Dawson of the FBI Little Rock Field Office. “When officers charged with enforcing the law break their oaths and violate the rights of others, they gravely injure the public’s trust in law enforcement.”

Boen’s sentencing is expected to happen in about four months. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release.

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