A former Alabama Department of Corrections shift commander was convicted of failing to intervene and prevent a subordinate from attacking an inmate at the state’s Elmore Correctional Facility, the Department of Justice announced Friday. Willie Burks, 42, “watched calmly as...Sergeant Ulysses Oliver took a handcuffed and compliant inmate out of an observation room, threw him onto the ground, and then punched, kicked, and beat him with a baton,” according to the DOJ. “Rather than intervene, as Burks had been trained to do, Burks stood silent until the end of the beating, at which time he commented, ‘That’s fair.’” Burks, a 17-year veteran, then told Oliver to falsify an incident report, instructing him to write that Burks had in fact told him to stop the assault, which took place in 2019.
“The Constitution requires officers to take reasonable steps to stop excessive force when they know of it and have the power to stop it,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “Defendant Burks defied the Constitution, and ignored his oath as a law enforcement officer, when he casually watched a handcuffed and defenseless inmate in his custody being assaulted by an officer under his command.” Burks is the fourth correctional officer to be found guilty in connection with this case, and faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in November.