Raleigh, N.C. — A Wake County jury on Thursday found a detention officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the June death of an inmate who died from injuries he suffered during an altercation with the officer.
Security video at the Wake County Detention Center from June 4 showed Markeith Council, 27, slamming Shon Demetrius McClain to the ground twice during an altercation.
McClain died 13 days later from blunt force trauma to the head.
“A lot of the family members have not seen the video and still do not want to,” said Jesse Jeffers, an attorney for McClain’s family. “For those that did, it was some closure for them, and others hate that they had to see it as many times as they did.”
Before Council was sentenced, his wife, pregnant with their fourth child, asked the judge for mercy.
“It is my daughter’s birthday, and I promised we would all be home,” Antoinette Council said.
Markeith Council, a detention officer at the jail since 2009, was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended to 90 days in jail and three years on supervised probation.
Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner said he considered mitigating factors in determining the sentence, noting that Council has a good reputation in the community and works to support his family.
“This is a very sad case. It’s a case where someone didn’t need to die,” Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Thursday, calling Council’s actions “clearly excessive” and “both legally and morally wrong.”
Council testified Wednesday that he felt McClain was a threat and needed to be subdued after McClain, who had been arguing with him earlier that day, became combative and struck him in the jaw.
Other inmates testified during the four-day trial that McClain – who was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 119 pounds – was helpless once he was pinned by Council, who weighs 290 pounds and played football in college.
Council was charged with voluntary manslaughter, which, according to the law, is the killing of a human being by an intentional and unlawful act.
For a conviction of involuntary manslaughter, the jury had to find that Council acted unlawfully or in a criminally negligent way that caused McClain’s death.
Jeffers declined to say whether McClain’s family plans to file a civil suit in the case.