WASHINGTON – Brandit Franco, 33, a former deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty to a civil rights charge today in federal court in San Antonio, Texas, for using excessive force against a prisoner while working as a detention officer at the county jail, the Justice Department announced. Franco faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of $250,000. A sentencing hearing is set for July 24, 2009.
According to documents filed in court, Franco acknowledged that on the evening of Oct. 18, 2006, he willfully used more force than was necessary when he responded to noisy prisoners inside of a locked holding cell by entering the cell and striking a pretrial detainee. As a result of Franco’s assault, the prisoner sustained injuries to his head that necessitated medical treatment. By pleading guilty, Franco acknowledged that he deprived the prisoner of his constitutional right not to be deprived of liberty without due process, which includes the right to be free from the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer.
"Law enforcement officers take an oath to uphold the law, not to violate it, as this officer did when he abused his authority over a man in his custody," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division.
The FBI investigated this case, and it was prosecuted by Gerard V. Hogan and James D. Walsh with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.