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Alabama Jail Guard Fired, Convicted, Held Civilly Liable in Prisoner’s Assault

Alabama Jail Guard Fired, Convicted, Held Civilly Liable in Prisoner’s Assault

by David M. Reutter

In a rare conclusion to a guard’s violent attack on a prisoner, a Jefferson County, Alabama jail guard was fired, prosecuted, convicted and found liable in a civil lawsuit. The guard, Antonio Allums, continues to maintain that he was a victim of racism.

In December 2003, while on the seventh floor of the Jefferson County Jail, Allums cursed prisoner Michael Boler, choked him, and then banged his head on a window. Another prisoner and a deputy testified at Allums’ subsequent criminal trial that Boler was sitting quietly when Allums used excessive force.

Boler suffered a head injury, loose teeth and a cut lip. He filed an administrative complaint which initially went nowhere due to an attempted cover-up by Allums and three of his fellow deputies. In other words, they applied standard operating procedures when a guard assaults a prisoner.

Allums and his co-workers submitted a report stating that Boler had tried to attack a guard, which resulted in his injuries when they scuffled with him. Allums vehemently denied he had assaulted Boler, saying he called a “Code Blue” for assistance and had witnessed the altercation from the jail’s control room.

However, the other three deputies later admitted they had lied about the incident in order to help Allums. The Jefferson County Sheriffs Office fired Allums in March 2004. Two years after the incident, in December 2005, a jury found Allums guilty of misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced to one year in jail but ordered to serve only 60 days and pay an $800 fine. He was also placed on two years unsupervised probation.

“The crime that Antonio Allums committed was just not an assault on Michael Boler but it was an assault on our system of justice because of the position of authority he held,” said Jefferson County prosecutor Shanta Owens.

Following Allums’ conviction, Boler filed suit against both Allums and the Sheriffs Office. The claim against the Sheriff was filed outside the statute of limitations, and thus was dismissed. The assault and battery claim against Allums – which was within the six-year statute of limitations under Alabama law – proceeded to trial, where Allums represented himself.

On October 29, 2007, a Circuit Court jury awarded Boler $1,000 plus costs of $714. Despite this outcome and his conviction, Allums maintained that racism and lies led to his downfall. Interestingly, he cited two other cases in which white deputies at the jail had assaulted prisoners but were not fired or prosecuted. In those incidents, deputy Loyed McGowan slapped a prisoner and received a three-day suspension without pay, while Lt. Ken Rich was suspended for 30 days after he was accused of slapping two prisoners.

The Sheriffs Office denied allegations of racism, noting the “serious injuries” that Boler had suffered as a result of Allums’ assault. Also, Allums had a history of similar conduct; in 2001 he was suspended without pay for five days for slamming a defendant’s head on a car trunk, breaking a tooth.

Michael Boler’s mother, Myra, remarked that Allums “deserves just what he got.” See: Boles v. Allums, Jefferson County Circuit Court, Alabama, Case No: CV-06-1438.

Additional source: The Birmingham News

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Related legal case

Boles v. Allums