BOP Blames Bird for Eric King’s Property Destruction During Federal Trial

Denver, CO – During the federal trial against political prisoner Eric King, there have been multiple disruptive incidents affecting the defendant at the Englewood prison where he is being held. King, his legal team, and supporters are concerned that these seem like consistent retaliatory actions by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

On Thursday morning, which was the fourth and final day of trial, the government and the defense brought to Judge Martinez’s attention (without the jury present) that King’s cell was flooded when he returned to it the previous evening.

Zachary Huffman, a BOP paralegal, told the court that King’s cell’s sink was left on and there was some toilet paper in it, seemingly alleging that King left the sink on. The judge asked if anyone else could have done that, and Huffman said there weren’t other inmates in that housing unit, but it could potentially have been prison staff. He told the judge he will collect all the information he can.

Attorney Sarah Alvarez for King’s defense approached the lectern and stated that when King arrived back at his cell the previous evening, he was crying and distraught at seeing it flooded—many of his belongings were soaked and destroyed including some of his legal papers, family photographs, and books. Alvarez added that King noticed his inventory paperwork provided to him by BOP listing all of his property had coffee stains on it, and when King asked staff about it, they told him “a bird flew into his cell and knocked it over.”

Judge Martinez asked the government how anyone knew about a bird in King’s cell, and they said an officer saw the bird and entered the cell. Alvarez added that BOP staff told King that when the officer allegedly went into King’s cell because of the bird, that’s how toilet paper ended up in the leaking sink. The defense told the judge there should be video evidence of these claims as that area of the prison has security cameras.

Judge Martinez said he had never seen anything like this in his whole career—it was far reaching at this point to say it wasn’t the BOP’s intention, and an accident instead—“Now a bird is being blamed?” Martinez added that the BOP seemed to be setting themselves up for a civil lawsuit.

In the previous days of trial, Martinez was told about other instances of BOP actions disrupting King. On the second day (Tuesday), the defense alleged that on the previous evening while King was back in prison, he was without his property and legal documents for 2.5 hours. The government alleged King was only without his property for 15 minutes.

BOP staff planned to house King in the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) building throughout the duration of the trial, which is a different building on the Englewood campus than the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) building King has been living in. However Monday evening, King was taken to the FCI because there were alleged errors at the FCC.

Attorney Lauren Regan for the defense said the acts toward King by BOP staff seemed retaliatory and calculated. She said that according to King, there were no housing cells in the FCC other than a suicide cell, and so she shared her concerns of King being housed in the FCC. Regan asked for photographs of the cell King would end up in that evening, so they could all have subjective evidence of whether his placement there was punitive or not.

Spencer objected to “the whole tone” of Regan’s comment, telling the court that asking the BOP staff to take photographs was beyond what they could do.

On Wednesday morning, before the jury was brought in, the defense brought up that King was housed at the FCI the previous night, not the FCC like they were told. The defense said King was without his property and legal papers until late in the evening, and that the housing unit he was in was empty, except for him. They also brought up the inventory list created of King’s property, saying they were waiting for a copy to see if his legal papers were looked through by BOP staff, which is against attorney-client privilege.

In a press release published Friday morning by the Eric King Support Committee, they highlight how the “widespread criminality and violence within the corrections officers employed by the Bureau” influenced Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) to introduce the Prison Camera Reform Act of 2021. The Act was passed on October 21, 2021.

Former political prisoner and whistleblower Chelsea Manning shared her insight and experience in solidarity with King: “The most awful and violent and dangerous interactions I’ve ever seen have come, with impunity, from prison staff.”

“The only common denominator in every single jail, every single civilian and military prison, at every security level, was just the awful brutality of prison staff towards inmates. The worst people in jail or prison are staff, time and time again, and this was across the board no matter where I went.”

Chelsea Manning

During Assistant U.S. Attorney Valeria Spencer’s rebuttal closing arguments, she mentioned how the defense’s story doesn’t make sense, that correctional officers wouldn’t harm inmates and attempt to get away with it. However for people like King and Manning who have first-hand experience in prison, it makes perfect sense to them.

The jury is still deliberating on this trial. We will provide updates when they become available.

Check out our Coverage of the Trial of Political Prisoner Eric King here.

Follow us on X (aka Twitter), Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, BlueSky and Patreon.

Unicorn Riot coverage of Political Prisoner Eric King: