| NEW YORK, Sept 20
NEW YORK, Sept 20 A suspended guard at New York
City's Rikers Island jail complex pleaded guilty on Tuesday to
charges that he tried to cover up an assault by a fellow officer
that led to the death of an inmate in 2012.
Byron Taylor, 32, entered his plea in Manhattan federal
court to charges including conspiracy to obstruct justice and
perjury, one month before he and the other guard, Brian Coll,
were to face trial over the death of Ronald Spear.
In court, Taylor apologized for obstructing the
investigation into the death of the 52-year-old pretrial
detainee. Taylor said that since his June 2015 arrest he has
sought "to make this right and move forward in life."
"Today is me accepting responsibility for my wrongdoing," he
As part of a plea agreement, Taylor agreed not to appeal any
sentence of 21 months in prison or less. His sentencing is set
for Dec. 20.
The case is one of a string of prosecutions targeting Rikers
employees in recent years, as authorities seek to stem violence
and corruption that has long plagued New York City's main jail
Mayor Bill de Blasio has sought to implement a number of
reforms to help rectify problems at Rikers Island, which with
about 10,000 inmates is one of the country's largest jail
Prosecutors said on the morning of Dec. 19, 2012, an
altercation took place between Coll and Spear, who had kidney
problems, after the guard told the inmate that a doctor he had
sought to see was not available.
Prosecutors said Coll punched Spear several times in the
face and stomach, and then repeatedly kicked him in the head
while he was on the ground and restrained by two other officers,
Taylor and Anthony Torres.
Spear was pronounced dead soon after, prosecutors said.
Coll, Taylor and Torres subsequently sought to cover up the
cause of Spear's death by filing false reports and by lying to
investigators. In Taylor's case, that included lying to a
federal grand jury, prosecutors said.
Torres is cooperating with authorities after pleading guilty
to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and file false
In 2014, New York City agreed to a $2.75 million settlement
with Spear's family.
Coll, 47, has pleaded not guilty to charges including one
count of death resulting from deprivation of rights under color
of law, which carries a potential life sentence. His trial is
scheduled for Oct. 24.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Alan Crosby)