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4 Prison Guards Charged With Murder After Suffocation Death Of Black Man In Spit Hood

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Four Missouri prison guards were charged Friday with murder, and a fifth with accessory to involuntary manslaughter, in the December death of a Black man who was pepper sprayed, had his face covered with a mask and was left in a position that caused him to suffocate while in custody at a correctional facility, according to a complaint filed Friday.

A group of guards making up the Department of Corrections Emergency Response Team was sweeping one of the housing units for contraband on Dec. 8, 2023, when Othel Moore Jr., 38, was pepper sprayed twice, then put in a spit hood, leg wrap and restraint chair, according to a news release from Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Locke Thompson.

Moore was then moved to a separate housing unit, where he was left in the hood, wrap and chair for 30 minutes. Thompson said multiple people heard him saying he couldn’t breathe. Moore was eventually taken to a hospital wing and was pronounced dead.

Thompson said the medical examiner ruled Moore’s cause of death was from positional asphyxiation, and his death was listed as a homicide. He confirmed the events were captured on the prison’s video surveillance system.

“After sitting down and reviewing all evidence, the dozens and dozens of interviews, all the reports, we determined that charges were appropriate,” Thompson told The Associated Press.

An attorney for Moore’s family, Andrew Stroth, has said Moore had blood coming out of his ears and nose.

“There’s a system, pattern and practice of racist and unconstitutional abuse in the Missouri Department of Corrections, and especially within the Jefferson City Correction Center,” Stroth said, adding: “It’s George Floyd 3.0 in a prison.”

The complaint charges Justin Leggins,

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