A McCracken County grand jury indicted a local deputy jailer earlier this month on 16 counts of first-degree official misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor.
Sgt. Ben Green, 31, was indicted May 5 and arrested May 8. He bonded out the same day.
The charges stem from an investigation into multiple inmate complaints alleging mistreatment. Green’s employment at the jail was terminated in March during the course of the investigation, McCracken Jailer Tonya Ray said.
According to the investigation report, Kentucky State Police detectives were asked to review a series of complaints regarding an incident that occurred in February.
“On the night of Feb. 21, 2017, several inmates assigned to the jail’s protective custody (PC) cell were moved into general population cells,” the report states.
“As a result of this move, at least three inmates claimed they were physically assaulted," one of whom had a black eye and multiple bruises. Other inmates claimed their property was stolen by general population inmates.
Inmates placed in protective custody are housed separately for their safety, Ray said, adding the classification process is based on an inmate's charges, criminal history and the nature of their offenses. Inmates also fill out a questionnaire that asks if they have enemies or if there are inmates they can't be housed with.
That process, she said, ensures inmates are housed with others serving time for similar crimes.
During their investigation, detectives interviewed 18 inmates and a handful of jail employees who were working with Green that night.
The report states trouble began when an inmate was placed in protective custody and another inmate was moved out. The PC inmates had a problem with the new arrival and were angry the other inmate was moved. At some point, the new arrival pressed the emergency call button and requested to be moved.
When word reached Green, the report states, he went to the protective custody cell to question the inmates, but none would cooperate.
“(Green) became angry (and) allegedly told the inmates that because none of them wanted to talk, he was going to move them into general population.”
He then allegedly instructed the jail staff to move the inmates.
In their interviews, several staffers said they expressed concern, but were reluctant to disobey a supervisor’s order.
“Not long after the move, arguments and altercations began to break out among the general population and protective custody inmates,” the report states, and the PC inmates were moved back into protective custody.
In his statement to detectives, Green did not deny moving some PC inmates but claimed he was authorized to do so.
After the dispute in the protective custody cell, Green said he "gave the order to move several of (the PC inmates) elsewhere” and chose those inmates after carefully checking their keep-apart list.
Detectives said, “Green stated he had the authority to classify inmates as PC inmates. Therefore ... he was under the impression he would also have the authority to remove this classification.”
Jailer Ray disputed Green’s assumption.
“The jailer is the only one that can override a classification,” she said, adding that process would take at least 12 hours.
Ray said inmates are typically removed from protective custody at their request.
“If they feel like they can go into general population, we’ll let them,” she said. “We don’t hold them in protective custody as a punishment. But if something does happen and they need to go back in PC, we override it and put them right back in PC and that’s where they stay.”
In a statement, Green's attorney Jeremy Ian Smith said his client did nothing wrong.
"Ben did not do anything outside the scope of his duties or policies of the McCracken County Jail," Smith said. "He's innocent and looking forward to telling his side of the story."