BEAVER, W.Va. — Two former corrections officers pleaded guilty for their roles in an assault that led to the death of an inmate.
Steven Nicholas Wimmer and Andrew Fleshman each pleaded guilty to conspiring with other officers to use unreasonable force against an inmate at the Southern Regional Jail on March 1, 2022.
The inmate is only identified by the initials “Q.B.” in a U.S. Department of Justice media release posted on Friday, November 3, 2023.
Burks’ mother, Kimberly, reacted to news of the correctional officers’ charges in an interview with the station in August. “They took a piece of my life away that day for no reason at all and it still hurts just like it did from the first day. I pray it never happens to another family and another child – because it’s a feeling you can’t shake.”
Burks’ family has organized a GoFundMe campaign for “Burial Expenses & Justice.” As of this writing, the campaign has raised $2,060 of its $5,000 goal.
Regarding the 2022 incident at the jail, Wimmer and Fleshman each acknowledged that they separately responded to a call for officer assistance after Q.B. tried to push past another correctional officer and leave his assigned pod.
Both men stated that when they arrived at the pod, Q.B. was on the floor, and force was being used as officers restrained and handcuffed him.
Wimmer, Fleshman and other jail employees then escorted Q.B. to an interview room where several of them struck and injured the inmate who was restrained, handcuffed and posed no threat at that time.
Wimmer and Fleshman each admitted that they felt they were punishing Q.B. for attempting to leave his assigned pod.
Both men pleaded guilty on November 3 before U.S. District Court Judge Frank W. Volk.
According to their respective plea agreements, Wimmer and Fleshman each face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings are scheduled for Feb. 22, 2024.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney William S. Thompson for the Southern District of West Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Michael D. Nordwall of the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office made the announcement. The FBI Pittsburgh Field Office is investigating the case.
Deputy Chief Christine M. Siscaretti and Trial Attorney Matthew Tannenbaum of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Deputy Criminal Chief Monica Coleman for the Southern District of West Virginia are prosecuting the case.