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Rikers guard accused of fatally beating inmate in 2012 goes on trial

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NEW YORK — A federal civil rights trial is underway in New York City for a former Rikers Island guard accused of fatally beating an ailing inmate while the man was restrained and lying on the floor.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannette Vargas told jurors Friday that defendant Brian Coll abused his power by “savagely” kicking inmate Ronald Spear to death in December 2012.

Ronald Spear, 52, died in Rikers Island while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said he was beaten to death by two corrections officers who allegedly tried to hide their role in his death. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

Ronald Spear, 52, died in Rikers Island while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said he was beaten to death by two corrections officers who allegedly tried to hide their role in his death. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

Defense lawyer Joshua Dratel says Spear aggressively resisted guards’ attempts to restrain him. He says Coll is not responsible for Spear’s death.

The encounter occurred outside a jail doctor’s office. Spear had been receiving regular dialysis treatments and needed a cane to walk.

Prosecutors also say Coll got other guards to lie about what happened.

New York City previously paid out $2.75 million to Spear’s family.