Accused of repeatedly punching a handcuffed inmate on the ground, a second Georgia correctional officer pleaded guilty to violating the inmate’s civil rights by assaulting him. On December 29, 2018, Valdosta State Prison (VSP) correctional officers Jamal Scott and Brian Ford escorted a handcuffed inmate named only as “F.G.” to an outdoor area on the grounds of the facility. In retaliation for a previous altercation between the inmate and a female officer, Scott and Ford knocked F.G. to the ground while punching his body.
According to court documents, the inmate was handcuffed and compliant at the time of the assault. Scott and Ford have admitted that they were carrying out orders from their supervisor, Sergeant Patrick Sharpe, to attack the inmate.
On November 9, 2020, Ford pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, for his role in the incident. On December 11, 2020, Scott and Sharpe were indicted for their roles in the assault against F.G.
The 4-count indictment also alleged that Sharpe punched an inmate identified only as “M.B.” in the face and head with handcuffs wrapped around his fist on September 24, 2018. Sharpe has been charged with making false statements to FBI agents investigating the assaults.
On Wednesday, Scott pleaded guilty to violating the inmate’s civil rights under color of law. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
“When Scott assaulted this inmate, he violated the inmate’s civil rights and betrayed his oath of office as a correctional officer,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pam Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals, and work to ensure that officers who abuse their power are held accountable.”
“Damaging repercussions are felt across our community and beyond whenever a sworn officer violates the civil rights of a person in their charge,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Peter Leary for the Middle District of Georgia. “Our office will work tirelessly to protect the civil rights of all people, and we will hold abusive officers accountable for breaking the laws they are sworn to uphold.”
“There is never a reason for a correctional officer to resort to violence that violates an inmate’s constitutional rights,” Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker of the FBI Atlanta Field Office noted in a recent press release. “The FBI understands that working in a correctional institution is stressful and dangerous work, and that the vast majority of the men and women working in these institutions do their jobs honorably on a daily basis. When an officer violates the rights of inmates in their care, it erodes public trust in these important positions and damages the reputation of the hard-working officers who continue to serve.”
Scott faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.