A judge last week dismissed a case against an Alabama Department of Corrections officer for allegedly beating an incarcerated man with a belt.
The dismissal of the second-degree assault indictment came at the request of Assistant District Attorney Robert Jones of the 4th Judicial Circuit, who was prosecuting the case.
Sergeant Akeem Edmonds at Bibb Correctional Facility was arrested on June 9 and charged with second-degree assault. A Bibb County grand jury on March 3 indicted Edmonds on one count of second-degree assault for assaulting the incarcerated man with a belt, according to court records.
Jones wrote in a Nov. 4 motion to dismiss the case that he was doing so because the “state of Alabama lacks sufficient evidence and will have difficulty proving its case.”
Jones in his motion and in a phone interview with APR on Monday said he’d also asked for the dismissal because the prison nurse who examined the incarcerated man said the bruises appeared a few days old. Jones also cited an ADOC review of Edmonds after his arrest as reasoning not to continue prosecuting him.
“Based on the findings of the Department of Corrections Personnel Director, there was not enough evidence to demote the above stated individual and there is a lesser burden of proof in that hearing than is required by law for the State to prove in a criminal case,” Jones wrote in his motion.
“So there just wasn’t enough evidence for us to meet our burden,” Jones told APR.
Asked why he felt the evidence insufficient given that a grand jury indicted Edmonds based on that evidence, Jones said that he could not discuss what was mentioned at the grand jury.
Edmonds was placed on mandatory leave on Sept. 13, ADOC spokeswoman Kristi Simpson told APR in a response to questions Monday about his employment status.
“The termination process was initiated at that time and has not yet been completed,” Simpson said.
The case dismissal was at least the second for Edmonds after being charged and arrested in connection with allegations of assaulting incarcerated men.
A state prosecutor in 2016 successfully got a judge to drop a charge of third-degree assault against Edmonds connected to an allegation that Edmonds assaulted a man at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, court records show.
The alleged victim in that incident said in a deposition that Edmonds slammed him into a wall and told him he was going to “beat his ass,” injuring his ankle, according to court records. The judge dismissed that case “on Motion of state” but court records online do not include the state’s motion seeking that dismissal.
An ongoing civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama alleges Edmonds beat another incarcerated man in 2018 at Bibb prison, breaking the man’s hip.
“After Williams returned from being strip searched, defendant Edmonds took Williams out of the dorm, out into the hall, and then into the barbershop. Inside the barbershop, defendants Edmonds, Melton, Rutledge, Tabb, and unidentified correctional officers proceeded to beat Williams and/or failed to intervene to protect Williams from being beaten,” the complaint reads.
“The beating began with a punch to Williams’ face by Edmonds. Numerous slaps, hits, kicks, and punches were delivered by the officers,” the lawsuit continues. “Edmonds eventually picked Williams up over his head and slammed Williams down on a bench in the room, breaking Williams’ hip.”
In a response to the complaint, a state assistant attorney general representing Edmonds and three other ADOC officers denies those allegations, according to court records.
Edmonds was sued by another incarcerated man in 2016, who alleged Edmonds sprayed him with pepper spray and beat him while he was handcuffed to a bench in the medical unit at Donaldson prison, according to court records.
The victim in that case in his complaint wrote that Edmonds heard the victim and other incarcerated men laughing and told them “Y’all find me funny or something?” according to court records. The two men began arguing and Edmonds sprayed the man with pepper spray in the face, according to those records.
Edmonds then began “punching him in the face and upper body, with his fists,” the court records state.
“Officer Edmonds was still screaming, ‘Talk all that S— now,’” the complaint reads, noting two other officers restrained Edmonds and “kept telling officer Edmonds to calm down and chill out.”
That case was dismissed in August 2020, after Edmonds and the plaintiff reached a settlement agreement, according to court records. Those records do not indicate how much the plaintiff received in compensation.
Alabama is being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged unconstitutional treatment of incarcerated men, including a lack of basic health care and mental health care in understaffed and deadly facilities.
In previously released reports, the Justice Department detailed systemic problems of abuse from guards, corruption, cover-ups, rampant drug use, violence, overcrowding and understaffing in Alabama’s prisons.