Grand jury indicts Bureau of Prisons CO, nurse in inmate's death
Both the CO and nurse were charged with violating the man’s civil rights “by showing deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, resulting in his death"
By Julia Marnin
The Charlotte Observer
PETERSBURG, Va. — A correctional officer and a nurse are accused of ignoring the serious medical needs of a man who died under their supervision in a Virginia prison, federal prosecutors said.
Bureau of Prisons Lt. Shronda Covington was told the 47-year-old, identified as W.W., was eating out of a trash can, urinating on himself and falling down the day before his death in January 2021 at the Federal Correctional Institution at Petersburg in Hopewell, according to court documents.
Instead, she is accused of lying to federal agents and said he was walking around his cell, doing pushups and listening to music on Jan. 9, 2021, an indictment says.
BOP registered nurse Tonya Farley is also accused of lying to federal investigators, saying she was advised by a jail psychologist that the man was “malingering” — or faking an illness for his own benefit that same day, according to the indictment.
Covington, 47, and Farley, 52, both of Chesterfield, were charged with violating the man’s civil rights “by showing deliberate indifference to (his) serious medical needs, resulting in his death,” on June 6, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced in a June 7 news release.
Information regarding whether they have legal representation wasn’t immediately available.
The man died in relation to heart issues on Jan. 10, 2021, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. The records didn’t list a specific cause of death, the outlet reports.
McClatchy News contacted the BOP on June 8 inquiring whether Covington and Farley are still employed at FCI Petersburg and didn’t immediately receive a response.
Man showed signs of ‘acute distress’
On Jan. 9, 2021, Covington and Farley are both accused of failing to make sure the man received necessary medical attention while on-duty.
Prosecutors also said Farley wrote a fake report about his death. In a BOP Clinical Encounter Report, Farley wrote the man showed “no signs or symptoms of ‘acute distress,’ when, as defendant Farley then well knew, (he) was exhibiting multiple signs of acute distress,” the indictment says.
She also wrote he understood his medical care when he was actually “incoherent” and did not say he understood, according to the indictment.
Farley is also accused of lying about speaking with a doctor about the man’s medical needs.
During an interview with investigators on April 4 of this year, Farley lied and said she called a doctor about the man’s symptoms and care the day before he died, prosecutors said. She also lied and said she didn’t send him to a hospital because the doctor didn’t authorize hospitalization and instead suggested speaking with the jail’s psychologist, according to the indictment.
She further lied and said the psychologist advised that the man was faking his symptoms, the indictment says.
Meanwhile, Covington asked a correctional officer to lie and report in BOP records that she completed rounds of the unit where the man’s cell was located — in addition to lying about behavior he was displaying on Jan. 9, 2021, according to the indictment.
If Covington and Farley are convicted on the civil rights charges against them, they’d face up to life in prison, prosecutors said.
Hopewell, where the prison is located, is about 20 miles southeast of Richmond.