Brian Ford, 23, a correctional officer at the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) in Valdosta, Georgia, pleaded guilty this week to one count of using excessive force against an inmate housed at the facility.
According to documents filed in connection with the guilty plea, on Dec. 29, 2018, Ford, while on duty as a correctional officer at VSP, struck an inmate with his fist multiple times while the inmate was handcuffed and lying on the ground. Specifically, Ford and other prison officials escorted the handcuffed inmate to an outdoor area on the grounds of the prison for the purpose of assaulting the inmate in retaliation for a previous altercation between the inmate and a female officer. Ford and another officer, carrying out a directive from a supervisor, took the inmate to the ground and struck him multiple times in the body. The inmate was handcuffed and compliant at the time of the assault.
“These acts are egregious for any person to commit, let alone a member of our law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “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,” said 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 a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case was investigated by the FBI, and was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Katherine G. DeVar and Nicole Raspa of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Solis of the Middle District of Georgia.