WASHINGTON – In a federal indictment unsealed today, two former supervisors at the Winston-Choctaw County Regional Correctional Facility (WCCRCF) in Louisville, Miss., were charged with criminal civil rights and obstruction of justice violations. The indictment alleges that the officers assaulted two inmates and shocked one of them with an electric device referred to as a “shock stick” in October 2001. Former Deputy Warden Scotty L. Graham and former Captain David G. Mitchell are charged in the indictment with assaulting an inmate and violating his civil rights; with conspiring to obstruct justice; and with obstructing justice by providing false statements about the assault. The indictment also charges defendant Mitchell with a second civil rights violation for assaulting another inmate on the same date. If convicted, the defendants face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison on each of the civil rights and obstruction charges, and five years in prison on the conspiracy charge.
In a related case, former WCCRCF Officer Marcus Coleman pleaded guilty to a felony civil rights violation for assaulting and shocking an inmate in October 2001. During a hearing before U.S. District Judge Michael Mills on September 28, 2006, Coleman admitted that he and defendant Mitchell assaulted the inmate and that defendant Graham encouraged them to continue the assault in a location where there would not be any witnesses. Coleman has agreed to cooperate with the government’s prosecution of the other defendants. Coleman faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the civil rights offence.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. Since fiscal year 2001, the Department of Justice has convicted 50 percent more defendants for excessive force and official misconduct than in the preceding six years.
This case was investigated by the Oxford Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorneys Jeff Blumberg and Ed Caspar.