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New York: Former Rikers Guard Gets 30 Years for Civil Rights Violations, Conspiracy

by Monte McCoin

PLN has previously reported on the December 2016 conviction of former Rikers Island jail complex guard Brian Coll, 47, for his role in the 2012 death of detainee Ronald Spear. In 2014, New York City paid $2.75 million to settle the Spear family’s wrongful death suit. [See: PLN, July 2015, p.1; May 2017, p.63].

Newly-released court testimony revealed that Coll kicked Spear in the side of the head several times “like he was kicking a field goal,” then told the wounded, mentally ill man, “This is what you get. Remember I did this.” In court documents, prosecutors revealed disturbing details about the case, including that Coll had bragged that he should get a teardrop tattoo to represent Spear’s murder and had kept a framed newspaper clipping in his bedroom as a trophy of the incident.

Coll’s attorneys had argued for a sentence of between four and six years, and told the federal court that Coll himself did not orchestrate the subsequent cover-up of the attack, calling it “a function of the culture firmly in place at Rikers Island.”

On September 13, 2017, Manhattan U.S. District Court Judge Loretta A. Preska sentenced Coll to 30 years in prison – a term even harsher than that requested by prosecutors.

“This was a particularly vicious and callous attack, and that’s what makes it such a serious offense,” Praska declared when sentencing Coll. 



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