Former jail officer pleads guilty to using excessive force

“But when an officer betrays the badge and the public’s trust, as the defendant did here, they dishonor their profession and endanger the safety of their fellow officers.”

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Accused of assaulting an inmate and fracturing his rib, a former sergeant with the Grady County Jail, in Chickasha, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty Wednesday to using unreasonable force against the inmate.

On July 11, 2020, Sgt. Johnnie Drewery provided a suicide smock to an inmate identified as “D.H.” before moving him to a holding cell on the first floor. As the cell door began to close, D.H. spat on Sgt. Drewery.

After screaming for the cell door to be reopened, Drewery entered the cell and repeatedly struck D.H. with his fists and knee. As a result of the beating, D.H. suffered a fractured rib.

On Wednesday, Drewery pleaded guilty to violating the inmate’s constitutional civil rights by using excessive force against D.H. The former jail sergeant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

“The defendant is being held accountable for using excessive force against a man inside of a jail cell who was not posing a threat at the time he was assaulted,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a recent press release. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to investigate and prosecute law enforcement officials who deprive individuals of their Constitutional rights by using excessive force against them.”

“Law enforcement and corrections officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” stated U.S. Attorney Robert Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma. “But when an officer betrays the badge and the public’s trust, as the defendant did here, they dishonor their profession and endanger the safety of their fellow officers.”

“The FBI is the primary federal agency tasked with investigating violations of federal civil rights,” noted Special Agent in Charge Edward Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office. “Along with our partners at the Department of Justice, we work to protect the civil rights of all to ensure that individuals are treated fairly when they are in the custody of law enforcement. We take this responsibility seriously and will hold law enforcement officers accountable when they abuse their authority by using excessive force.”

Drewery’s sentencing will be set by the court in approximately 90 days.

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