Police officers plead guilty to beating inmate

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- Two former police officers from the St. Louis suburb Velda City pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges in the beating of a jail inmate, authorities said.

Former Velda City police Sgt. Lewis McGee and former detective Mark Winger both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of a jailed man.

Authorities said that on July 31, Winger and McGee conspired to physically assault a man who was being detained at the Northwoods Police Department in suburban St. Louis.

While McGee held the victim on the ground with his foot, Winger struck the victim multiple times, causing bodily injury.

McGee, 42, and Winger, 29, then made false statements to a special FBI agent to cover up their roles. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

A female processor at the jail where the inmate was housed, Arvette Ford, 48, also was indicted for failing to intervene in the beating and lying to federal investigators.

The victim was not named in court papers, referred to only by his initials, E.H. But in September, St. Louis County charged Winger and McGee with assaulting 20-year-old inmate Emil Harris.

Harris was arrested by Velda City police on traffic warrants. He was jailed July 29 in nearby Northwoods because there was no room to house him in Velda City, authorities have said.

The federal indictment alleged that on July 31, Ford called Velda City to complain about the inmate and ask that officers come to the jail to deal with him.

According to the indictment, Ford let Winger and McGee into the cell, with Winger ordering jail workers to deactivate surveillance cameras. McGee held down the inmate while Winger struck him, the indictment said.

A Northwoods police employee contacted the FBI. The inmate did not file a complaint.

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