“The defendant abused his power and authority by ordering subordinate corrections officers to violate the constitutional rights of several pretrial detainees,” Clarke added.
Justice Department officials continued in the release:
The evidence and testimony revealed that, on May 18, 2017, while Ware served as the Lieutenant of the KCDC, he ordered lower-ranking corrections officers to move two Black pretrial detainees, D’Angelo Wilson and Marcus Miller, to a cell row housing white supremacist inmates whom Ware knew posed a danger to Wilson and Miller. Later that same day, Ware gave lower-ranking officers a second order: to unlock the jail cells of Wilson and Miller, and those other white supremacist inmates at the same time the following morning. When Ware’s orders were followed, the white supremacist inmates attacked Wilson and Miller, resulting in physical injury to both, including a facial laceration to Wilson that required seven stitches to close.
The evidence and testimony also revealed that, on Jan. 31, 2018, while Ware served as the Acting Captain of the KCDC, he ordered lower-ranking corrections officer to restrain another pretrial detainee, Christopher Davis, in a stretched-out position — with Davis’ left wrist restrained to the far-left side of the bench and his right wrist restrained to the far-right side of the bench — in retaliation for Davis sending Ware a note that criticized how Ware ran the KCDC. Davis was left restrained in this position for 90 minutes, resulting in physical injury.
Ware faces 10 years in prison, with three of them on supervised release and up to $250,000 in fines for each violation. His sentencing is expected to happen about 90 days from his conviction, according to the Department of Justice.
Special Agent in Charge Ed Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office said in the news release that Ware’s conviction is “a prompt reminder that no one is above the law.”
“If we don’t hold our very own law enforcement officials accountable, those sworn to protect and serve, what hope will the American people have,” Gray asked.
The Kay County Detention Center has long been connected to accusations of misconduct. Stephanie Wright, a former employee at the detention center filed a federal lawsuit claiming the center retaliated against her with termination because she reported sexual harassment and inmate abuse, the local news station KFOR reported in 2020. Wright’s attorney, Mark Hammons, told the news station his client had been working at the jail since 2011 when in 2017 a female officer told her she was being sexually harassed. Wright said she reported the allegation to her boss and nothing was done. She said in the suit KFOR obtained that KCDC Director Don Jones said Wright’s behavior was “unbecoming.” Wright said in the suit that months later she learned an inmate was confined to a padded cell with no source of water, a bed, or bathroom and that another inmate was handcuffed and made to hold his arms extended out for about one hour.
Wright reported her experiences to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney’s office, Hammons told KFOR.
“When the government does something wrong and someone points the finger and says, ‘you can’t do that,’ that’s essential to our checks and balances otherwise the government runs wild and they do whatever they want to do,” Hammons said.