- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pennsylvania county jail guard has been ordered to stand trial on charges he assaulted a handcuffed inmate by pushing him backward so hard that he hit his head and suffered a seizure.

But defense attorney Christopher Urbano said after Tuesday’s preliminary hearing that he expects Blair County Prison guard Lloyd Gene Rogers Jr. to be exonerated at trial.

“When all the evidence comes out, I am confident he will be vindicated,” Urbano said. “This was not a circumstance where the incident is what the inmate indicated.”

That’s not what the Hollidaysburg police have said in charging the 36-year-old Tyrone man who has spent more than 10 years as a guard at the county jail about 90 miles east of Pittsburgh.

They’ve charged Rogers with simple assault, disorderly conduct, official oppression and harassment after their investigation “corroborated” the claims of Harry Smith, a 44-year-old drunken driving inmate who claims he was slammed to the floor on Nov. 11.

The criminal complaint said Rogers was walking the handcuffed inmate down a hallway when he stopped, stuck his leg out behind Smith’s and pushed Smith backward “causing the victim to fall onto the concrete floor landing on his head and upper back area.” Smith’s dentures also were broken, the complaint said.

Smith was treated by jail medical personnel then taken to UPMC Altoona Hospital eight days later where he was diagnosed with a neck and lower back strain, the complaint said.

Hollidaysburg police Sgt. Rodney Estep said county prison officials first forwarded Smith’s allegations to the police Dec. 24. He previously told The Associated Press that Smith’s story “was corroborated through numerous investigative measures” but would not elaborate.

District Attorney Richard Consiglio didn’t immediately return a call for comment after the preliminary hearing. But whatever other evidence police have wasn’t presented Tuesday, when Smith was the only witness, Urbano said.

The defense attorney wouldn’t detail Smith’s testimony or say what he disputes.

“I think it’s going to be a question of, ‘Was the conduct justified?’” Urbano said. “It’s not a question of ‘Did something occur?’ This inmate was a disciplinary problem, and he had disciplinary issues that day, and he was being taken to disciplinary housing when this occurred. The question is, ‘Was the conduct necessary to subdue the inmate, or was it unnecessary?’”

Rogers was suspended with pay even before police filed the charges last month. Warden Michael Johnston didn’t immediately return a call for comment on whether Rogers’ status has changed, and Urbano declined comment on that issue.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide