Jail workers indicted on charges alleging unlawful force

May 2, 2019

The Herald-Dispatch

WASHINGTON — Two workers at the Western Regional Jail were indicted Wednesday on charges connected to the use of so-called flashbang and stinger grenades at the facility in 2015.

Austin Garland Burke, 64, and Timmy Allen Kemper, 58, were acting as internal affairs officers with the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority when they allegedly used unlawful force on a pretrial detainee at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville.

The indictment was announced by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Mike Stuart and FBI Pittsburgh Division Special Agent in Charge Robert Jones.

According to the indictment, on Feb. 27, 2015, Burke and Kemper were responsible for the use of unlawful force against the detainee, who was injured when a flashbang grenade and a stinger grenade were deployed in his cell and he was then hogtied and transported in a K-9 vehicle to another correctional facility.

The indictment also alleges that the defendants’ acts involved the use of a dangerous weapon and resulted in bodily injury to the detainee.

According to previous reports, the detainee, Shane Marcum, filed a lawsuit against the regional jail authority, claiming he received serious burns after having the devices thrown into his cell at Western Regional.

Burke and Kemper are charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. The count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment. An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys Olimpia E. Michel and Kathryn E. Gilbert of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Kincaid for the Southern District of West Virginia.