Ex-trooper pleads guilty in beating

A former state police officer accused of beating a man in custody has pleaded guilty.

Mark C. Ridener, who was stationed at the London state police post, must serve 60 days in jail. However, during much of that time he will be released on weekdays to go to his job at a Corbin car dealership, and he can also attend National Guard training.

However, Ridener must serve the final two weeks of his sentence, from Sept. 19 to Oct. 3, without work release, according to an order by Judge R. Cletus Maricle.

Ridener's total sentence was six months, but 120 days will be probated for one year provided he has no further violations of the law.

Ridener also agreed to give up his professional certification as a police officer.

Maricle instructed officials at the Laurel County Detention Center to recognize the potential risk faced by a former officer behind bars and to take all precautions to protect him.

Ridener and James P. Moore, then state police officers, allegedly attacked Richard McCrystal after arresting him in December 2006. McCrystal had been accused of assaulting the son-in-law of another officer.

McCrystal said that, on the way to the jail, the officers stopped along a dark road in Corbin. Ridener smacked and punched him, and both officers kicked and stomped him, McCrystal testified.

McCrystal later pleaded guilty to the assault charge and is in jail.

Both officers left the state police while the case was under investigation. A grand jury later indicted them on one count each of fourth-degree assault and first-degree official misconduct, both Class A misdemeanors.

Ridener's attorney argued at one point that McCrystal had started a struggle with the officers, so Ridener was justified in using force against him and immune from prosecution.

A district judge dismissed the charges against both former officers. But a circuit judge said that ruling was in error and reinstated the charges.

Ridener pleaded guilty to both charges against him.

Moore is scheduled for trial in November.

The special prosecutor on the case, Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright, said McCrystal was satisfied with the plea agreement. Wright was pleased with the outcome as well.

“There's some accountability” for Ridener's conduct, he said.