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Guard, ex-guard arrested in beating death of Rikers inmate

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NEW YORK — Two Rikers Island correction officers, one of whom still works at the prison, are accused of beating to death an inmate then trying to cover up their alleged crime, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Court papers allege former guard Brian Coll repeatedly kicked Ronald Spear in the head, inflicting wounds that ultimately killed the 52-year-old. Current guard Byron Taylor is accused of helping to restrain the inmate while his colleague kicked Spear in the head, and then lying about his role in the beating, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, calling the charges "more sad news out of Rikers."

They were arrested Wednesday.

"Rikers inmates may be walled off from society, but they are not walled off the protections of our Constitution," Bharara said.

Ronald Spear, 52, died in Rikers Island while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said he was beaten to death by two corrections officers who allegedly tried to hide their role in his death. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

Ronald Spear, 52, died in Rikers Island while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said he was beaten to death by two corrections officers who allegedly tried to hide their role in his death. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

New York City settled a lawsuit last year for $2.75 million stemming from Spear's death, which was ruled a homicide. A criminal complaint alleges Spear was face-down on the floor as Coll kicked him repeatedly in the head, causing bleeding in his brain.

Lawyers said Spear complained that guards retaliated against him for contacting lawyers about his kidney disease treatment.

Spear was awaiting trial.

It's not immediately clear who will represent the defendants.

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