Recorded on video repeatedly tasing a restrained teenage detainee, a former supervisory corrections officer was recently sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Around 7 p.m. on November 5, 2016, Jordan Norris, 18, who was incarcerated at the Cheatham County Jail in Tennessee, was growing increasingly violent toward himself while threatening other inmates. Recorded on surveillance video, Norris resisted as three officers handcuffed the teen and placed him in a restraint chair.
One of the officers used a Taser on Norris a few times for no more than five seconds each to get him to comply and seated in the chair.
An hour later, the officers noticed that Norris had managed to loosen one of the arms of the restraint chair. As Officer Josh Marriott placed a spit mask over Norris’ head, Officer Jeff Key used both hands to restrain Norris’ right arm.
In the video, supervisory corrections officer Mark Bryant fired his Taser at Norris four times for a total of 50 seconds. Despite the fact that Norris was unable to move while strapped into the restraint chair and visibly in pain, Bryant continued to taunt him while firing his Taser.
“I’ll keep on doing it until I run out of batteries,” Bryant told Norris. “You don’t like it, do you?”
Two hours later, Norris was in restraints, including shackles on his ankles, a belt across his legs, handcuffs, and a belly chain, while seated in a restraint chair. According to prosecutors, Norris was noncombative and compliant at the time when Bryant fired his Taser several more times at the teen.
Bryant’s final Taser shock lasted for at least 11 seconds.
As a result of Bryant’s unjustified uses of force, the teen suffered bodily injury, including burns that an officer on the scene described as making the detainee’s skin look like “raw hamburger meat.” As the senior officer at the scene, Bryant then directed his colleagues not to submit reports regarding his uses of force on the detainee.
In January, Bryant was convicted on two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for repeatedly tasing the restrained pretrial detainee. The jury acquitted Bryant of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of lying to the FBI.
On Friday, Bryant was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
“The defendant abused his power as a supervisory corrections officer by assaulting a restrained person in his custody. Officers who willfully use excessive force both violate the Constitution and erode the public trust in law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting these abuses of power and upholding the Constitution and laws that protect us all.”
“The extraordinary abuse of power displayed by Bryant was both disturbing and disappointing to the many fine men and women in law enforcement who strive every day to carry out their duties with honor and professionalism,” stated U.S. Attorney Donald Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee. “We can never be complacent in our responsibility to protect every citizen from such abuse. Justice has been served and I commend our trial team and our law enforcement partners for their outstanding work in the investigation, preparation and prosecution of this case.”
“When a law enforcement officer violates the civil rights of another, he brings shame on the badge,” asserted Douglas Korneski, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the FBI. “The sentencing of former Corrections Officer Mark Bryant sends a strong message that law enforcement officers or any other government employees who abuse their authority and use unlawful force will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. Our citizens have a fundamental and constitutional right to ethical treatment by employees of federal, state, and local government.”