- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pennsylvania county jail guard has been charged with assaulting an inmate who was serving a drunken-driving sentence, by allegedly pushing him backward while handcuffed so hard that he hit his head and suffered a seizure.

Blair County Prison guard Lloyd Gene Rogers Jr., 36, of Tyrone was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, official oppression and harassment.

Warden Michael Johnston told the Altoona Mirror, which first reported the investigation Wednesday, that an unnamed guard had been suspended with pay. The warden did not immediately return a call for comment on the charges or whether Rogers’ employment or suspension status has changed as a result.

The inmate, 44-year-old Harry Smith, of Altoona told the newspaper by phone Tuesday that he was not resisting when the guard punched, kicked and slammed him to the floor Nov. 11, breaking his dentures and injuring his back and neck.

The criminal complaint said Rogers was escorting the handcuffed inmate 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.” His 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 said Smith’s story “was corroborated through numerous investigative measures.” He would not elaborate.

Rogers is being mailed a copy of the complaint and a court summons for a preliminary hearing on April 21, Estep said.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for Rogers, who didn’t immediately respond to a Facebook message for comment.

The most serious charges he faces, simple assault and official oppression, are second-degree misdemeanors each carrying up to two years in prison upon conviction. Official oppression is the illegal use of one’s law enforcement or government-vested powers.

Smith couldn’t be reached by The Associated Press, but told the newspaper he “fears for his life” since making the allegations. He was sentenced to 10 days to six months in jail in November for his fourth DUI, but had been in jail since May because of other probation violations.

“I went from an extremely liked inmate to being scumbag No. 1,” he told the newspaper.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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