76° Good Morning
76° Good Morning

Ex-Rikers Island guard Brian Coll gets 30 years in inmate death

Former Rikers Island guard Brian Coll, left, was

Former Rikers Island guard Brian Coll, left, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in connection with the 2012 death of inmate Ronald Spear, right. Photo Credit: NYC DOI; Zoe Salzman

A Manhattan federal judge on Wednesday imposed a 30-year prison sentence on Brian Coll, the former Rikers Island guard convicted last year of violating the civil rights of a restrained inmate by kicking him in the head and causing his death.

Coll, 48, of Smithtown, was also convicted of trying to cover up the details of the 2012 incident that led to the death of Ronald Spear, 52, a diabetic inmate with heart and renal disorders who had an altercation with Coll over getting into the Rikers infirmary to see a doctor.

“Any reasonable person knows that savagely and repeatedly kicking a person in the head creates a high risk of death or serious bodily injury,” U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said. “There was nothing accidental or negligent about this.”

Preska imposed the sentence after prosecutors had called for a sentence of close to 30 years, citing Coll’s lack of remorse and the need to send a message about violence at Rikers.

They said Coll got a teardrop tattoo after Spear’s death to memorialize the incident and kept a framed picture of Spear and a news article on his death on his wall.

Coll’s defense lawyers asked for a 4 to 6 year prison term, citing his clean record during 12 years working at Rikers.

They argued that he suffered mental “deficits” that caused him to erupt when faced with an unexpected fight — some government witnesses said Spear actually started it — and that it was out of character.

Spear was awaiting trial on a burglary charge at the time of his death. He was restrained on the floor by other officers when Coll kicked him multiple times.

Preska noted that after the kicking, Coll lifted Spear’s head and said “Remember I did this” before letting it drop back on the floor.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos