5 West Virginia Ex-Correctional Officers Under Federal Indictment After Death Of Inmate

The former officers for their involvement in the death of Quantez Burks who was fatally beaten while he was handcuffed and destined in Southern Regional Jail

A federal grand jury has indicted five former correctional officers in West Virginia for their alleged involvement in the death of an inmate who was fatally beaten while being handcuffed in an interview room and then in a jail cell in 2022, CBS News reports.

Mark Holdren, 39; Cory Snyder, 29; Johnathan Walters, 35; Jacob Boothe, 25;  Ashley Toney, 23 and Chad Lester, 33, are all facing numerous changes in connection with the death of 37-year-old Quantez Burks while in their custody.

The U.S. Department of Justice has also charged the ex-officers, including a former lieutenant, of attempting to cover up their attack on Burks after they arrested him on wanton endangerment and obstructing an officer. It was unclear if the officers were terminated from their jobs or if they had resigned, according to .

According to the indictment, the former officers plotted to beat  Burks as an act of retaliation for when he pushed past an officer when he tried to leave his pod. Then they allegedly brought Burks to  “blind spots” in the jail where there was no surveillance footage and repeatedly assaulted him.

Burks, who was awaiting trial after being held in custody at the Southern Regional Jail died as a result of injuries he sustained less than a day later. 

After their brutal encounter with Bruks, the indictment alleges that Walters, Holdren, and another officer submitted incident reports “that contained false and misleading information. Additionally, the indictment also charges Holdren, Snyder, and two other officers are charged with making false statements to the FBI.

On Thursday (Nov. 30), West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mark Sorsaia said that the state worked in tandem with federal law enforcement “to secure indictments against the ex-corrections staffers.”

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"It's important to note that we alerted the federal authorities to this matter and worked closely with federal authorities throughout the entirety of the investigation to assist in holding those responsible for unlawful acts accountable," Sordia said.

Sorsaia also added that his department has"no tolerance for abuse of any kind to be inflicted on inmates that are housed in our state facilities."

The Southern Regional Jail has been the subject of much scrutiny for the treatment of inmates and the upkeep of the facility. West Virginia has settled a $4 million class-action lawsuit filed by inmates for the “inhumane” conditions of the institution. 

Filed last year on behalf of current and former inmates,  the suit alleges that the jail lacks access to water and food, the facility is overcrowded, and correctional officers did not intervene in fights between inmates until one party suffered an injury.

The indictment follows the announcement that two other former West Virginia corrections officers, Steven Nicholas Wimmer, and Andrew Fleshman, guilty to a felony conspiracy for their role in the incident. 

Fleshman admitted to moving Burks from the interview room to a cell, where the officers continually struck him as punishment for the earlier incident. Wimmer confessed to striking Burks while he was restrained and posed no threat to anyone.

Wimmer and Fleshman's sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 2024 where they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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