Convicted of willfully depriving a citizen of his constitutional rights under color of law, a former Kentucky deputy jailer was recently sentenced to four years in federal prison and one year of supervised release. The inmate was repeatedly assaulted with a Taser for cursing at the deputy jailer while on suicide watch.
On August 14, 2016, James Eakes, a deputy jailer with the Fulton County Detention Center in Hickman, Kentucky, was called to an inmate’s cell because the inmate, identified as “L.B.” in court records, informed the guards that he was feeling suicidal. After removing the inmate’s clothing and possessions from the cell, Eakes and two female deputy jailers left L.B. locked in the cell with only an anti-suicide garment.
The inmate reportedly cursed at Eakes who ordered a colleague to unlock the door to L.B.’s cell. As Eakes opened the door, he immediately shot the inmate with a Taser for no justifiable reason.
Eakes then entered L.B.’s cell, and, while activating the Taser, repeatedly yelled at L.B. not to curse at him again. Despite the fact that L.B. took no aggressive action towards Eakes and remained slumped against the cell wall, Eakes tased L.B. two additional times.
On August 16, 2018, a federal grand jury in Paducah, Kentucky, returned a one-count indictment charging Eakes with violating the civil rights of an inmate by assaulting him with a dangerous weapon. In May 2019, Eakes was convicted of willfully depriving an inmate of the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
On Thursday, Eakes was sentenced to four years in federal prison and one year of supervised release.
“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting victims from cruel and unusual punishment,” stated Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “As demonstrated by this sentencing the Civil Rights Division will relentlessly pursue justice on behalf of those whose rights were abused.”
“Each of us in law enforcement take an oath to uphold the rights of all; we don’t get to pick and choose,” noted U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman for the Western District of Kentucky. “Victims will be protected, and those found to be violating the law will be prosecuted regardless of their position or what office they hold.”
“The FBI will not tolerate correctional officers who violate a person’s civil rights,” said FBI Louisville Special Agent in Charge James Robert Brown Jr. “Former deputy jailer, Eakes, took an oath to protect the inmates under his control. Not only did he abuse his position of authority, but he also betrayed the public’s trust.”