2 Officers Plead Guilty in Connection to Inmate's Death

Wednesday, December 2nd 2009, 11:34 am
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two former Oklahoma County Jail detention officers have pleaded guilty in connection with the death of an inmate.

Christopher Beckman, 30, was arrested on a DUI complaint on Memorial Day Weekend of 2007. By Monday he was dead.

The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Department, which runs the jail, has been investigating Beckman's death. Jailers insisted they did nothing wrong, but now some of them are changing their story.

Justin Isch, 22, was supposed to go on trial Monday for violating the civil rights of Christopher Beckman but now he and another former jailer have pleaded guilty in exchange for cooperation with the ongoing investigation.

As part of a plea deal with the federal government, Isch admitted to ramming Christopher Beckman's head through a metal door when he was being taken to a jailhouse clinic. Beckman was handcuffed at the time. Once inside the clinic, Beckman remained handcuffed and had his legs shackled.

It was at that clinic where William Hathorn, another jailer on duty, said he saw a colleague repeatedly strike Beckman even though Beckman was restrained. In court, Hathorn admitted concealing that evidence from the FBI, OSBI, Oklahoma County Sheriffs and two grand juries, who were investigating the Beckman death.

Terry Beckman, Christopher Beckman's father, said in 2007 he always suspected his son died at the hands of the jailers instead of from a seizure, which Oklahoma County deputies initially claimed. The state medical examiner's office later ruled Beckman's death a homicide which led to two jailer's facing federal charges.

Both Isch and Hathorn agreed to help federal prosecutors with this case as part of the plea deal. Another jailer goes on trial Monday in federal court for his alleged role in Beckman's death.

Isch remains free on his own recognizance. His sentencing date has not been set.

The Beckman family has filed a civil suit against the Oklahoma County Jail.

More on News9.com:
- 2 Men Indicted in Connection to Inmate's Death
- 2007 Inmate Death Remains Under Investigation
- Coroner's Reports Conflict, Whetsel Says
- FBI Investigates OK County Jail Death