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Jury finds detention officer guilty in Wake inmate's death

Posted December 12, 2013

— A Wake County jury on Thursday found a detention officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the June death of an inmate who died from injuries he suffered during an altercation with the officer.

Security video at the Wake County Detention Center from June 4 showed Markeith Council, 27, slamming Shon Demetrius McClain to the ground twice during an altercation.

McClain died 13 days later from blunt force trauma to the head.

"A lot of the family members have not seen the video and still do not want to," said Jesse Jeffers, an attorney for McClain's family. "For those that did, it was some closure for them, and others hate that they had to see it as many times as they did."

Before Council was sentenced, his wife, pregnant with their fourth child, asked the judge for mercy.

"It is my daughter's birthday, and I promised we would all be home," Antoinette Council said.

Markeith Council, a detention officer at the jail since 2009, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended to 90 days in jail and three years on supervised probation.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner said he considered mitigating factors in determining the sentence, noting that Council has a good reputation in the community and works to support his family.

"This is a very sad case. It's a case where someone didn't need to die," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Thursday, calling Council's actions "clearly excessive" and "both legally and morally wrong."

Markeith Council Excessive force by jailer leads to conviction in inmate's death

Council testified Wednesday that he felt McClain was a threat and needed to be subdued after McClain, who had been arguing with him earlier that day, became combative and struck him in the jaw.

Other inmates testified during the four-day trial that McClain – who was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 119 pounds – was helpless once he was pinned by Council, who weighs 290 pounds and played football in college.

Council was charged with voluntary manslaughter, which, according to the law, is the killing of a human being by an intentional and unlawful act.

For a conviction of involuntary manslaughter, the jury had to find that Council acted unlawfully or in a criminally negligent way that caused McClain's death.

Jeffers declined to say whether McClain's family plans to file a civil suit in the case.


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  • jackcdneh1017 Dec 16, 2013

    To all those who want to blame the victim in this case, how smart is it for a 110 lb man to attack this defensive lineman? Yes the man was in jail and is a "convict". Now Mr. Council is a convict too. Let us hope in the not too distant future, he doesn't get stopped by the police anywhere. He is now a black man and a convicted felon. Wait to see how he reacts with the guns drawn him and the potential beating he will get until they realize he "one of our own". 90 days in jail for killing a man? What a joke!

  • Zoey0815 Dec 16, 2013

    Our legal system is not broken. Don't pass judgment on a verdict if you did not sit through every minute of the trial. Don't be so quick to pass judgment on a situation you weren't involved in. Being a prison guard is an extremely stressful way to make a living. This is a tragedy, but I don't think the prison guard is a monster.

  • whoami Dec 13, 2013

    90 days in jail? For killing someone? Dang.

  • A person Dec 13, 2013

    Really, the mother tried to hide behind the child and asked for a lighter sentence. People, they are children, they are not pawns and should not be used in any way, especially to lighten the penalties for terribly wrong behavior. If I was the judge, I would have thrown the book at him for trying such a cowardly move. I would also have held her in contempt for being so contemptable. Pathetic

  • 678devilish Dec 13, 2013

    He said every and anything to save himself. But the jury watch the video several times before finding him GUILTY. It was the JUDGE who messed up by slapping him on the wrist. I hope he sleeps well at night.

  • handylaw2 Dec 13, 2013

    @luv2funrun: Would his child punch a DO in the jaw? The prisoner instigated the violence and was egged on by the other prisoners.

  • LastSon1981 Dec 13, 2013

    By the state of NC's definition, DOs are NOT law enforcement.

    You mean the criminal justice standards our the sheriffs standards because both of those say they are. You can look it up

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Dec 13, 2013

    The scariest part of this whole situation is the Donnie Harrison never lets his deputies or CO's be found responsible for anything.

    He likes to use the policy failure excuse to normally sweep this kind of conduct under the rug (hence the current pending lawsuit against him)

  • 678devilish Dec 13, 2013

    His child's birthday on the day he was found GUILTY. He was not able to return home as promised by the mother. She should have never made that promised to the child knowing the verdict had not come in. Wonder how he feels about that?

  • 678devilish Dec 13, 2013