As the country seethes over the violation of civil rights, a 30-year-old former Correctional Officer from Louisiana has pleaded guilty to three counts of using excessive force against three pre-trial detainees held at the detention facility where was employed.
Cody Richardson, pleaded guilty to using excessive force, specifically tasing detainees housed in the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office (RPSO), Detention Center 1, in Alexandria, Louisiana, while they were restrained or not resisting. Talking about the implications of Richardson's actions, Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, said in a statement, "This misconduct by a correctional officer erodes public trust."
According to court documents, Richardson had tased three different detainees, identified as K.F, S.M, and J.A, while on duty as a correctional officer at the detention center. In doing so, he violated 18 U.S.C. § 242 as the detainees were restrained and/or not resisting. The three instances of excessive use of force that Richardson pled guilty to occurred between January and March of 2018.
Three Separate Incidents of 'Tasing'
On 28 January 2018, K.F, was tased by Richardson while his hands were up, which caused him to fall. However, Richardson continued to tase the fallen man three more times. This was in spite of K.F not putting up a resistance.
Again on 24 February 2018, S.M was drive-stunned 15-20 times by Richardson. During the course of the incident, S.M was shackled by his ankles to a bench. Following this, his wrists were handcuffed by Richardson's colleagues. The convicted officer continued to tase S.M and went on to kick him in the abdomen once.
The attack on S.M, nevertheless, was not the last of Richardson's violations. The third count for which he pled guilty came on 19 March 2018. He used the taser against the back of a detainee, J.A. The detainee fell to the ground due to this. As J.A lay on the ground, Richardson sat on a table and activated the disarming electric device four more times as J.A, writhed on the floor screaming in pain.
At a time when the civil rights of prison inmates is under scrutiny, Dreiband reaffirmed the department's commitment towards bringing violators to justice. "The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who violate the civil rights of inmates," he said.
While a date for the sentencing hearing is yet to be announced, Richardson's plea carries with it severe punishment. For each of the counts, the former Correctional Officer faces a maximum statutory penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fine.