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Detention officer goes to trial in inmate's beating death

Posted December 10, 2013
Updated December 11, 2013

— A detention officer charged with voluntary manslaughter after the death of an inmate at the Wake County Detention Center this summer threatened the prisoner before the assault, a witness testified in the case Tuesday.

Shon Demetrius McClain, 40, died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck 13 days after, the Wake County Sheriff's Office said, he was involved in an argument with officer Markeith Council.

Council, a detention officer at the jail since 2009, was indicted in August and is on trial this week. He has been suspended from his job indefinitely without pay.

"He said, 'I'll beat you to death, and I'll take my time calling the nurse for you,'" said Aaron Mitchell, an inmate in cell block FI at the Wake County jail in June.

Jurors saw a 15-second video of the June 4 encounter in which it appeared that McClain and Council exchanged words before McClain unsuccessfully tried to hit the officer.

Council then pushed McClain to the floor and slammed his head twice.

Bashiri Sandy, another inmate, witnessed the attack.

"I seen him dump him on his head, like twice," Sandy testified. "I witnessed that with my own eyes – him holding the guy by his uniform and turning him upside down and slamming him."

Inmate James Alston said he also saw the attack.

"After (McClain) first got slammed, there was nothing he could do," he said.

McClain – who had been in custody since May 28 on misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and consuming malt beverage on public property – was taken to WakeMed, where he remained on life support until his death on June 17.

Physician Dr. Tim Gardner and Dr. Lauren Scott, associate medical examiner for the state, said he died from a lack of oxygen to the brain.

"The injuries I observed are consistent with the falls I observed in the video," Scott said.

McClain, who was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 119 pounds, wasn't a violent person, family members said Tuesday, His sister, Marlene Gilbert, said she believes Council abused his power.

"I just think it's really clear to me," she said. "He was so small, and the officer was much bigger than he was."

Gilbert said she wants justice for her brother.

"He's the father of two kids, just a loveable person," she said. "I miss him dearly."

The state rested its case Tuesday afternoon, and the defense was expected to call witnesses Wednesday morning. The jury could begin deliberating as early as Wednesday afternoon.

28 Comments

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  • InterestedNurse Dec 11, 3:15 p.m.

    This could have been prevented if the inmate hadn't committed the crimes he did. More so if he hadn't been confrontational with an authoritative figure in the prison system. The result is unfortunate, but preventable.

  • jreb919 Dec 11, 1:39 p.m.

    I’m pretty sure the assault was over when the prisoner lost consciousness. No need to keep beating him. I don’t know but I’m pretty sure that’s where the involuntary manslaughter part comes in.

    Backpacker

    so what you are trying to tell me is that you have never been in any physical altercation, because that's exactly what everyone does when they get in a fight is check the wellbeing of their assailant after every hit....

    never mind that the inmate (who is by definition a law breaker to start with) started the fight - he BULLIED the officer and he got what was coming to him

    you act as thought the officer did this because he had nothing better to do that day

  • Backpacker Dec 11, 12:11 p.m.

    “please stop assaulting me so that we can take you to court".... happy now.”

    I’m pretty sure the assault was over when the prisoner lost consciousness. No need to keep beating him. I don’t know but I’m pretty sure that’s where the involuntary manslaughter part comes in.

  • wildpig777 Dec 11, 11:53 a.m.

    he tried to break bad- on the wrong person. prison although it has become a joke to the criminals is no joke to the people who have to work there.

    nc ought to have chain gangs, mandatory work 8 hrs a day, c rations and 1 telephone call a week. make prison so rough that when johnnie bad guy gets out of jail --he wont want to go back...

    but of course the judicial system is against that cuz repeat offenders keep lawyers and judges in a job.

  • jreb919 Dec 11, 11:51 a.m.

    So bring him to court, better known as due process.

    Backpacker

    the inmate attacked the officer..."hold on mr. inmate - we have to follow due process not that you have assaulted me. please stop assaulting me so that we can take you to court"....

    happy now.

  • crustyhalo Dec 11, 11:37 a.m.

    This is what happens when you let your emotions get the best of you. This man needs to go to prison for a very long time.

  • Backpacker Dec 11, 11:25 a.m.

    “the inmate took a swing at the officer - better know as assault on a government official which in most cases is a felony.” jreb919

    So bring him to court, better known as due process.

  • anotherconcernedcitizen Dec 11, 10:42 a.m.

    Fact - Inmate in jail because of his own actions

    Fact - Inmate attacked officer of his own will

    Fact - Officer defended himself

    Fact - Inmate Dead

    Fact - If inmate had not done just 1 of the 1st 2 facts listed above then the last 2 facts would not have occurred.

    To be determined by a jury - Did the officer overreact?

    Maybe yes according to SOP -BUT-

    We're not the one being attacked by an inmate in a POD of ~80 other inmates.

    It's a tragedy for the inmate and his family and for the officer and his family. No doubt.

    But the inmate's destiny was determined by his own actions - Now that's a fact.

  • scubagirl2 Dec 11, 10:32 a.m.

    If you watch the video closely it seems that after the first body slam to the floor the guy is not moving and is essentially a 'rag doll' and the second body slam to the floor was a direct head hit. That was excessive!!!! No matter how you look at it.

    AND the remaining prisoners did NOT move closer to the guard until the SECOND body slam because they KNEW it was over the top.

  • Backpacker Dec 11, 10:22 a.m.

    NoObamaCare - Do you have any idea what my job entails daily? No. Does that make you “the blind”? Certainly not and for me to suggest so would be disingenuous. I like many others probably have more of an idea what those in this profession have to deal with than some might think but dealing with it can never include the level of violence committed on this inmate. If it does than the guard is unquestionably no different than the inmate.

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