After a jury found an Arkansas sheriff guilty of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for assaulting two individuals in his custody, he was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison.
On December 3, 2018, Franklin County Sheriff Anthony Boen repeatedly punched a pretrial detainee in the head while the detainee was sitting on the floor and shackled to a bench inside the Franklin County Jail. Several minutes later, Boen returned to the detainee’s cell and struck him in the head again, then spit on him.
In a separate incident on November 21, 2018, Boen slammed a detainee onto the floor and ripped his hair during an interrogation. 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 August 9, 2021, a federal jury convicted the sheriff on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.
During the subsequent investigation of these offenses, Boen contacted officers who witnessed his assaults and pressured them not to provide truthful information to investigators. On Thursday, the former sheriff was sentenced to four years in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release, and a $4,800 fine.
“No one is above the law, especially high-ranking law enforcement officers who have a duty to uphold the Constitution and protect individuals in their custody,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a press release. “The defendant abused his power as sheriff by assaulting the people he was sworn to protect and pressuring his subordinates to cover up his crimes.”
“Anthony Boen swore an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and the State of Arkansas Constitution,” stated 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.”
“When former Sheriff Boen brutally assaulted individuals in his custody and violated their civil rights, it impacted all Arkansans and their trust in authorities,” noted Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson of the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office.