Correctional officer pleads guilty to assaulting handcuffed inmate

"We will never accept criminal conduct on the part of our law enforcement officers.”

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Accused of repeatedly punching a handcuffed and compliant inmate, a Georgia correctional officer recently pleaded guilty to one count of using excessive force against an inmate.

On December 29, 2018, Brian Ford, a correctional officer at the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) in Valdosta, Georgia, and other prison officials escorted the handcuffed inmate to an outdoor area on the grounds of the facility. In retaliation for a previous altercation between the inmate and a female officer, Ford and another officer knocked the inmate to the ground while punching his body.

According to court documents, the inmate was handcuffed and compliant at the time of the assault. On Monday, Ford pleaded guilty to one count of using excessive force against an inmate housed at the facility.

“These acts are egregious for any person to commit, let alone a member of our law enforcement,” noted Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division in a recent press release. “It is the duty of law enforcement to uphold the law and protect others, not dole out punishment as they see fit. The Department of Justice takes these acts seriously and works tirelessly to ensure that officers who violate the civil rights of others are held accountable.”

“The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers make daily sacrifices upholding their oath to serve and protect,” said Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “When one officer breaches that oath, it diminishes the good work of so many. By choosing to violate the civil rights of an inmate in his charge, this defendant has done a grave disservice to the many women and men who serve honorably as correctional officers in our prison system. I want to commend the Civil Rights Division for bringing justice in this case, and for their work protecting the rights of all Americans.”

“Every law enforcement officer who takes an oath knows it is never appropriate to take the law into his or her own hands,” stated Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “There are many legitimate ways to hand out punishment to inmates who misbehave, but assaulting a handcuffed inmate is not one of them. We will never accept criminal conduct on the part of our law enforcement officers.”

Ford faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

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