FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2021
Lauren Regan, Executive Director & Senior Staff Attorney
Sarah Alvarez, Staff Attorney
Judge Partially Grants CLDC Motion to Suppress Coerced Statement in Trial of Anti-Racist Political Prisoner, Eric King
Denver, CO —Yesterday, Judge William J. Martínez, of the U.S. District Court in Colorado, ruled in favor of a motion to suppress a coerced statement made by the Civil Liberties Defense Center and their client, political prisoner Eric King.
King stands accused of one count of Assaulting or Obstructing a Federal Official. The indictment in this case stems from an August 2018 encounter in a prison storage room between Mr. King and a Federal Correctional Institution Florence administrative lieutenant. King was ordered by correctional officers to a small storage room, where he was verbally and physically attacked, and suffered a black eye from the lieutenant repeatedly punching him in the face; in the aftermath, the lieutenant claimed King had instigated the attack. Prison employees held King in painful restraints for over five hours, without proper clothing or blankets, or even access to food and water or a bathroom, before forcing him to endure an interrogation by BOP employees on August 20, 2018.
Judge Martínez issued his ruling after conducting a full-day hearing in response to pretrial motions filed by the CLDC legal team, and it acknowledges that Eric’s will was overborne during the interrogation process, and therefore the statement is not admissible in court. As part of the ruling, the Court made a finding that Eric testified credibly during the evidentiary hearing on October 14, 2021, and “ [i]ndeed, the Court’s conclusion that the statements must be suppressed turns on the physical punishment and psychological intimidation Defendant suffered in the three-day period between his alleged assault on Lieutenant Wilcox and the August 20, 2018 interview.”
Incarcerated people rarely get to tell their story from behind bars. Eric was able to take the opportunity to tell his story on the stand, and it was recognized as a truthful account of the horrors of his torture. This outcome is even more momentous given the government’s fierce opposition to Eric’s courageous efforts to tell the world about his plight, and about the BOP’s continued attempts to silence his voice and restrict his communications.
Even though Eric’s motion was also partially denied, the Judge’s finding that a former BOP employee’s testimony offered by the government was not credible and given “almost no weight” is a very important development in this case. It is CLDC’s genuine hope that this ruling helps turn the tide for other prisoners to be believed when they come forward with their stories of abuse at the hands of the carceral state.
“Overall, we are pleased with this ruling. It has given our client the opportunity to stand up for his basic rights in the spirit of human dignity, and has clearly established the collusion and corruption within the BOP to frame a political prisoner for an officer’s misconduct and abuse,” stated Lauren Regan, Mr. King’s lead attorney. “Mr. King has consistently stated that he acted in self-defense after Lt. Wilcox assaulted him. Some of the BOP staff have lied, forged, and “lost” documents pertinent to this case. It is time for the U.S. Attorney’s office to dismiss this criminal case against Eric King,” Regan added.
Eric King is an anarchist political prisoner serving a 10-year sentence for attempted arson of a government official’s office in Kansas City, Missouri, in September 2014. He acted in solidarity with the Ferguson uprising and rebellion — a movement that took place over the summer of 2014 in response to the Ferguson police murder of Michael Brown. CLDC staff attorneys also represent Eric in his related civil case regarding systematic constitutional violations at the hands of the BOP. Read more about his criminal case and our most recent filings HERE.
The Civil Liberties Defense Center supports movements that seek to dismantle the political and economic structures at the root of social inequality and environmental destruction.