Federal Officials Now Launching Probe into Craighead Jail Beating

May 11, 2004 -- Posted at 5:37 p.m. CDT, updated at 6:08 p.m.

JONESBORO -- You first learned on K-8 news about the April 1 beating of prisoner Terry O'Neil at the Craighead County Detention Center.

Since then, we've reported on the internal investigation conducted by the Sheriff's Department which resulted in the dismissal of four jailers and a criminal investigation by the Arkansas State Police, which is still pending.
And today comes the revelation that federal investigators with the Department of Justice have arrived to look into possible civil rights violations of O'Neil while in Craighead County's custody.
"We feel like we'll get a true justice out of this, we won't have to worry about any local politics," said Martin Lilly, O'Neil's attorney.
"They are going to come by, and they will talk to us and we'll give them any information we have," said Sheriff Jack McCann.
"We pretty much agreed that we would allow them to complete their investigation...then make our decision jointly after they had all the information and the options known to them," said prosecuting attorney Brent Davis.
Sheriff McCann says his office will be willing to work with the Department of Justice, but he says the federal investigation may take months to complete.

"Everybody hated this incident happening and we're just all having to deal with it, but the morale seems good," said McCann, "I hope this will bring closure, the sooner the better for everybody."