Former prison Major convicted of beating handcuffed inmate

“Corrections officers are given great authority and power in our system because public safety depends on them doing their jobs well.”

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Image Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A former Major at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, was recently found guilty for beating an inmate who was handcuffed, shackled, and not resisting. In a previous trial earlier this year, Major Daniel Davis was convicted of conspiring with at least four other officers to cover up the beating by devising a false cover story, submitting false reports documenting that cover story, tampering with witnesses, and lying under oath.

According to evidence shown at the trial, Davis initiated the beating by yanking the inmate’s leg chains, causing the inmate to fall face-first onto the concrete breezeway. At that point, Davis and the other officers punched, kicked, and stomped on the inmate, leaving the inmate with a bloody gash under his eye, a dislocated shoulder, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung.

On January 26, a separate jury convicted Davis of conspiring with other officers to obstruct justice, obstructing justice by writing a false report, obstructing justice by corruptly persuading his subordinates to lie, and committing perjury by lying under oath in a federal civil deposition. Former Captains James Savoy, John Sanders, and Scotty Kennedy, and former Sergeant Willie Thomas have all previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the beating and cover up.

At Davis’s previous trial, two of the Captains testified for the government and described the abuse and the extensive obstruction of justice.

On Thursday, the jury convicted Davis of willfully depriving the inmate of his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. He faces a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment on the conspiracy and perjury counts, 10 years of imprisonment on the excessive force count, and 20 years of imprisonment on each of the remaining obstruction counts.

“Mr. Davis abused the justice system by beating an inmate, writing false reports, and using his influence and power as a corrections officer to encourage others to lie,” stated Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to prosecute correctional officers who violate federal criminal law.”

“Charged with protecting the civil rights of others, to include those in custody, is a responsibility the FBI takes very seriously,” said Eric Rommal, FBI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge. “Law enforcement officers and correctional officers acting under the color of law must ensure a person’s civil rights are not violated.”

“Corrections officers are given great authority and power in our system because public safety depends on them doing their jobs well,” noted Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street. “When those corrections officers commit crimes by choosing to abuse their power, as defendant Davis did in this case, they must be held accountable, or public trust in the system suffers. The jury’s guilty verdict should send a clear message that we have zero tolerance for it and will continue to aggressively pursue these cases whenever and wherever they may arise.”

No date has currently been set for Davis’s sentencing.

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