A man charged with shooting himself in the Cole County Jail in 2019 was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge he faced for that incident.
During a hearing Thursday morning, Brandon McNeese, 36, was sentenced for pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He entered his plea back in October.
According to court documents, the shooting occurred Nov. 25, 2019, and McNeese suffered a wound to his upper left arm.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms obtained a video and phone call recordings from the sheriff’s office of the jail pod area where the shooting took place.
A half-hour before the shooting, McNeese and another inmate left their cell but left the door partially open. After a couple of minutes, McNeese went back into the cell and left the door open. The video showed a few inmates came into and out of the cell.
About five minutes into the video, authorities said a bang is heard in the background. An inmate peeks inside the cell McNeese was seen going into earlier, but he does not enter. Another inmate closes the door to the cell.
A couple of minutes later, two inmates came out of the cell and shut the door behind them, then both stand by the door. About a minute later, a loud noise was heard on a telephone recording.
The two males at the cell door walked away and into the common area of the jail pod.
The door to McNeese’s cell opened partially and McNeese was seen sliding something with his foot out of the cell and into the corner of the open area just outside his door. McNeese then went back into the cell and shut the door. Another loud noise was heard at this point on the telephone recording.
A guard arrived and went to McNeese’s cell and saw the firearm, a .22-caliber pistol, outside the cell door. The guard opened the cell and found McNeese alone in the cell with a gunshot wound.
Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone convicted of a felony to possess any firearm or ammunition. McNeese has a prior federal felony conviction for possessing crack cocaine with intent to distribute.
This incident led to the Cole County Commission approving the purchase of a body scanner for the jail in December 2019 at a cost of $166,250. It went into operation in February 2020.
The money to buy the scanner came out of the Sheriff Department’s contingency fund.
Sheriff John Wheeler said the body scanner is intended to be used only on inmates; however, staff could scan employees or visitors if they felt there was a reason.
Jailers do not carry firearms in the jail, the sheriff noted.
McNeese has filed a lawsuit in Cole County Circuit Court against Wheeler and his department for inadequate medical care after he was shot. A status hearing on the case is scheduled for October.
McNeese’s sentencing Thursday also covers his guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine.
In October 2018, McNeese was indicted by a federal grand jury on drug distribution in Jefferson City.
Law enforcement officers conducted a controlled purchase of methamphetamine from McNeese, using a confidential informant, on Aug. 2, 2018, according to court documents. He sold the informant approximately 5 ounces of methamphetamine for $2,000. During the transaction, the affidavit notes, McNeese left his residence and traveled to a nearby residence. Investigators later learned he left a vehicle parked at that residence.
Investigators found a cellophane bag under the parked vehicle, which contained several smaller bags believed to contain narcotics. A K-9 unit was used to sniff the vehicle and alerted officers to the presence of controlled substances.