The Murder of Rocrast Mack
Rocrast Mack with his son
An investigation by EJI reveals that on the evening of August 4, 2010, 24-year-old Rocrast Mack Jr. was lying in his dorm bed covered with a blanket while prison guards conducted a routine count of the population at Ventress Correctional Facility in Clayton, Alabama. One of the correctional officers conducting the count, Officer Melissa Brown, approached Mr. Mack and accused him of looking at her inappropriately and began shouting at him. She then pulled out her baton, held it in one hand, and struck Mr. Mack in the face with her other hand. Attempting to escape the physical attack, Mr. Mack retreated behind the bed, but Officer Brown followed him and hit him a second time. Mr. Mack struck back, hitting her in the face, then ran away from her and toward the dorm entrance.
Another officer approached Mr. Mack and ordered him to get on the ground. Witnesses saw Mr. Mack comply with these orders and quickly get on his knees and place his hands on his head. Soon after, at least five other officers, including Lieutenant Michael Smith, arrived at the scene after responding to a call for back-up. Even though Mr. Mack was on his knees and subdued, witnesses report that officers violently assaulted Mr. Mack. Officers beat Mr. Mack with batons and fists, striking his head, face, and body. The correctional officer who initially got Mr. Mack to submit to arrest tried to intervene and attempted to pull the officers off of Mr. Mack and put himself between Mr. Mack and the assaulting officers. This officer was threatened by other guards and forced to retreat. Lieutenant Smith was heard to say that the guards were going to kill Mr. Mack. The threat and continuing assault occurred at the entrance of the dorm and was witnessed by dozens of inmates.
Mr. Mack was subsequently beaten by guards in the dorm and in the prison yard until his bloodied body became limp. Even after he appeared to be unconscious, witnesses saw guards continue to hit, kick, and punch Mr. Mack.
The guards ultimately took Mr. Mack, who was unresponsive, to the shift office, slammed Mr. Mack’s head into a wall, and closed the door.
Witnesses later saw a golf cart driven by a nurse leave the shift office with Mr. Mack’s body on the back of the cart. His arms were dangling, his neck appeared twisted, and his head bobbed uncontrollably. Believing he was dead, inmates began to protest and attempted to make phone calls for help. Prison staff disconnected the phones to prevent phone calls by inmates immediately following the incident. Upon arriving at the infirmary, guards were seen throwing Mr. Mack’s limp body to the ground while the nurse stood by watching.
Mr. Mack reportedly sustained fractures to his ribs, arms, legs, and skull during the attack. He was taken to Troy Regional Medical Center that evening and then transferred to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery. Reports indicate that Mr. Mack was brain dead by the time he arrived at Jackson Hospital. An autopsy report concluded that Mr. Mack died as a result of multiple blunt force trauma. The coroner ruled that his death was a homicide and his injuries were unusually severe.