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Witnesses claimed that the beating was so severe that neighbors and medics had to restrain the officer, while Barnhart’s body lie prostrate on the curb.

Franklin County, Ill. – Roy Barnhart’s killer, former police officer Bill McKinney, was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest with jail on the weekends after agreeing to a plead deal for beating Barnhart to death while handcuffed.

The incident took place in July of 2013, officers responded to a call of a fight. When McKinney and two other officers arrived on the scene, there was no fight, simply a verbal dispute between Barnhart and his neighbor about a boat title, according to investigators.

The cops, in their report, alleged Barnhart assaulted one of the officers, according to the Franklin County State Attorney

Barnhart’s wife Sue claims that nothing violent happened until officers involved themselves in the incident and attempted to “restore order.”

Barnhart ex-wife, Louise Lantham, said that upon the officers arrival, Barnhart requested that the officers leave, as they weren’t needed. She says this was the basis of a heated argument between Barnhart and McKinney.

Lantham claims it was officer McKinney that engaged in violence against Barnhart stating,

“The officer pepper-sprayed him until his shirt was wet, then he tased him in the wet t-shirt.”

This is the point at which he then attempted to escape and was tazered by one of the officers. McKinney then arrested and handcuffed 62-year-old Barnhart.

“Roy was on the ground shaking. He had a pacemaker and that did not respond well to electric shocks,” said Lantham.

While restrained in handcuffs, McKinney proceeded to assault Barnhart.

Cops claim McKinney punched Barnhart once, according to WISL 3.

But Lantham tells a different story saying,

“Officer McKinney started kicking him in the head, kicking him in the ribs, stomping on his hands, stomping on his leg, after he was already down and in handcuffs.”

Lantham went on to state that this was an over the top display of “excessive force.”

“I looked over and McKinney had his fist doubled up and punched him at least twice,” she said.

Witnesses claimed that the beating was so severe that neighbors and medics had to restrain the officer, while Barnhart’s body lie prostrate on the curb.

Barnhart was taken to Herrin Hospital and then airlifted to St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, after the massive head trauma, which caused brain bleeding.

Three days after the beating Barnhart succumbed to his injuries and passed away, leaving behind a wife, children and grandchildren.

In a rare move McKinney was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated batter of a senior citizen, and official misconduct, according to WPSD 6. But rather than hold McKinney accountable for the death he caused, by beating a suspect to death while handcuffed, the prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to only the official misconduct charge and dropped the other two charges.

McKinney was sentenced to just 18 months, but only weekends need to be served in lockup, the rest of the time he will be allowed the comfort of house arrest in his own home.

The special treatment this officer has received under the terms of this plea shows that officers are rarely held accountable. Even after the most heinous crime of killing a defenseless man that posed no threat to him, he still receives a slap on the wrist.

Barnhart’s son, Eric, said that officers shouldn’t be allowed special privileges simply because they are cops stating,

“They should do him like they would anybody else.”

The corruption displayed in this case cannot be overstated and highlights a mind numbing lack of accountability in the “justice” system. The people of Franklin County should be very afraid, as this prosecutor has shown that in this jurisdiction, cops are above the law and can kill without fear of any real punishment for their illicit and deadly actions.


Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.


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