WASHINGTON, D.C. (KSNT) – A former prisoner transport officer was sentenced on Wednesday for violating the civil rights of pretrial detainees after law enforcement was tipped off by Shawnee County corrections officers.
The Department of Justice reports that Anthony Buntyn, 55, a former prisoner transport officer, was sentenced to two years in federal prison after he violated the civil rights of pretrial detainees in his care. A federal jury convicted Buntyn on Sept. 28, 2022.
Buntyn was a prisoner transport officer employed by Prisoner Transportation Services of America (PTS), a Tennessee company that transports prisoners from state to state, according to the DOJ. During a job in March 2017, the DOJ said Buntyn had knowingly created dangerous, painful and unhealthy conditions on the van.
The DOJ said Buntyn would retaliate against detainees who complained of transport conditions by handcuffing them behind their backs and forcing them to remain for hours in a small cage inside the van. He would deny these detainees of access to meals and water while they were in the cage and would turn the heat up in the already-hot van as punishment for complaining. Detainees were also forced to urinate in empty bottles or on the floor.
“Prisoner transport officers, even when they are employed by private companies, must abide by the laws and protect the constitutional rights of the people in their custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The department will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s laws to ensure that officers who break the law — including those who are driving the nation’s backroads in prisoner transport vans and may therefore wrongly believe they can act with impunity — are held accountable.”
It was a stop at the Shawnee County Jail in Topeka that alerted federal agents to the problem.
“If not for the Detention Center notifying the FBI of the detainees’ condition upon arrival, the FBI may have never known or been able to seek justice for these victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Charles Dayoub of the Kansas City Field Office. “Buntyn’s actions disparage the very core of what he was employed to do – protect these individuals while in his custody,”