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Inmates Were Beaten With Ax Handle

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (CN) - A sheriff's deputy beat four inmates with an ax handle as they lay helpless on the ground while four other deputies and police officers watched, the men say. Choctaw County Deputy Sheriff Ben Milner was criminally convicted for the attack, according to the federal complaint.

The inmates say Milner beat them as deputies Mark Cathey and Eddie Ball, Hugo police Officer Keith Smith and Highway Patrolman B.J. Miller watched without stopping the vicious attack in October 2007.

Milner was criminally convicted of civil rights violations in September this year, for the attack on Webster, Jacobs, and a third inmate, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs - Aaron Jacobs, Brock Webster, Anthony Gallant and Donny Booth - say Milner beat them with "an axe handle with a taped handle." They say there was no basis for the beating, which they endured without moving for fear that the other officers might join in.

The men say their jail cell had flooded that day, then Milner entered the cell and ordered them "onto the ground, and into a prone position."

They say Milner had previously been accused of "improper conduct as an officer," and "illegal searches, or illegal seizures, or excessive use of force."

They say Choctaw County Sheriff Lewis Collins known of Milner's abuses and refused stop him or other officers from abusing their powers.

The men seek damages for their injuries and constitutional violations.

They are represented by George Haslam of Hugo, Okla.

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