WASHINGTON— The Justice Department announced today that Emmanuel Cassio, a former corrections officer at the Val Verde County Detention Center in Del Rio, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court on April 30, 2008, in Del Rio to violating the civil rights of a pre-trial detainee and obstructing the subsequent criminal investigation.
During his guilty plea, Cassio admitted that on Oct. 31, 2006, while working as a corrections officer at the Val Verde County Detention Center, he used unreasonable force when, unprovoked, he repeatedly punched an inmate. Cassio agreed that his assault violated the inmate’s constitutional right to be free of unreasonable force by law enforcement officers. Additionally, Cassio admitted that he obstructed justice when he provided false information about the incident to investigators.
Cassio faces a maximum sentence of 11 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $350,000.
“The overwhelming majority of correctional officers perform their difficult duties with honor and professionalism. The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who cross the line and engage in acts of criminal misconduct,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has convicted over 50 percent more defendants for excessive force and official misconduct than in the preceding seven years.
The plea resulted from the investigative work of the Val Verde County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Brady and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Jared Fishman.