4 Georgia guards convicted of assault and cover-up

Sep 21, 2022Updated: Sep 22, 2022 1:18 am

MACON, Ga. (AP) – Four former correctional officers at a Georgia prison were convicted on Wednesday for their role in the beating of a handcuffed inmate and the subsequent cover-up, federal prosecutors said.

US District Judge Hugh Lawson sentenced Sgt. Patrick Sharpe, 30, to four years in prison; Lt. Geary Staten, 31, to a year and two months behind bars and Assistant Correctional Officers Brian Ford, 25, and Jamal Scott, 35, each received a year and a day for the crime. Sharpe was also convicted of hitting another inmate in another incident, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release.

“The efforts of these officers to organize, execute, and then cover up a retaliatory attack on a handcuffed, compliant inmate is a egregious abuse of power,” said Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These rulings make it clear that no one is above the law and that officials are held accountable when they violate the civil rights of those under their authority — through violence or obstruction.”

According to court documents and statements made during Wednesday’s December 29, 2018 sentencing, Sharpe ordered his subordinate officers to assault the inmate in retaliation for a previous altercation between the inmate and a female officer at Valdosta State Penitentiary. After the attack, Staten took steps to cover up the crime, prosecutors said.

At the hearing, prosecutors requested lighter sentences for Ford and Scott and noted their significant assistance during the investigation.

“This case is a reminder that individuals, regardless of status, must be held accountable for their crimes,” said US Attorney Peter D. Leary of the Middle District of Georgia. “When sworn officers use violence against inmates, they damage society’s confidence in law enforcement and damage the reputation of the many worthy individuals who assume the dangerous responsibility of overseeing our prisons.”