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Fired Alabama Guard Reinstated Despite Excessive Force Used on Prisoner Who Died

by David M. Reutter

On October 24, 2023, the Alabama Personnel Board (APB) reinstated Capt. Timothy McCorvey, a guard dismissed by the warden at Ventress Correctional Facility in 2023 for using excessive force against a prisoner who later died of blunt force trauma.

Around 2:20 a.m. on January 21, 2023, McCorvey received a radio report of a prisoner in distress. Arriving at the cell of prisoner Brandon Crosby, 36, the guard dragged him by his shirt collar into a hallway. There surveillance video showed that Crosby grabbed McCorvey’s right leg. The guard bent down and said something to Crosby before punching him and removing Crosby’s hand from his leg. But Crosby attempted to grab it a second time. As his hands were being cuffed in front of him, he again attempted to grab McCorvey. Once the handcuffs were secured, Crosby grabbed McCorvey’s leg once more and lifted his head a little. Video showed McCorvey hitting Crosby, whose head snapped back before he rolled over and appeared in distress until the end of the video. Crosby passed away later that day.

Internal investigations ensued by the state Department of Corrections (DOC). The first report concluded criminal charges were not warranted, but it said McCorvey used excessive force. The second investigative report found that Crosby was not violently aggressive, and his resistance was not significant enough to warrant the strikes. The warden recommended dismissal, and DOC terminated McCorvey on April 4, 2023. He appealed to APB.

An autopsy concluded Crosby died of blunt force trauma that “caused extensive hemorrhaging around his brain, as well as multiple rib fractures, liver and spleen lacerations, and deep bruising throughout his neck.” APB found that “Crosby’s death was ultimately a result of him ingesting illegal drugs, falling off his bunk and hitting his head on the floor.” It concluded that McCorvey’s “first strike could be justified.” However, “McCorvey’s second use of force was unjustified, and he is due to be disciplined,” APB continued. Yet it said “his discipline should not be a complete loss of his twenty-two years of service with [DOC].” As a result, McCorvey was reinstated with full back pay and benefits, less interim earnings, and a 10-day suspension with pay. See: McCorvey v. Ala. Dep’t of Corr., APB, Case No. 23-10-RCS  

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Related legal case

McCorvey v. Ala. Dep’t of Corr.