4 Georgia guards sentenced for inmate assault, cover-up


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

U.S. 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 Deputy Correctional Officers Brian Ford, 25, and Jamal Scott, 35, each received a year and a day for the crime. Sharpe also was sentenced for beating a different inmate during a separate incident, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

“These officers’ efforts to organize, execute, and then cover up a retaliatory assault on a handcuffed, compliant inmate are an egregious abuse of power,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These sentences make clear that no one is above the law, and that when officers violate the civil rights of people under their supervision -– through violence or obstruction -– they will be held accountable.”

According to court documents and statements made during Wednesday's sentencing, on Dec. 29, 2018, Sharpe instructed his subordinate officers to assault the inmate in retaliation for an earlier altercation between the inmate and a female officer at Valdosta State Prison. Following the assault, Staten then took steps to hide the offense, prosecutors said.

At the hearing, prosecutors asked for lighter sentences for Ford and Scott noting their substantial assistance during the investigation.

“This case serves as a reminder that individuals — no matter their status — will be held accountable for their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary of the Middle District of Georgia. “When sworn officers do violence against inmates, they damage society’s trust in law enforcement and tarnish the reputation of the many worthy individuals who accept the dangerous responsibility of policing our prisons.”