Justice News

Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 6, 2009
Former Florida State Corrections Officer Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Assaulting an Inmate

Paul Tillis, a former Florida Department of Corrections officer, was sentenced today in federal court in Jacksonville, Fla., on a federal civil rights charge related to assaulting an inmate. Tillis was sentenced to three years in prison followed by two years of post-release supervision.

Following a week-long trial, a federal jury in Jacksonville convicted Tillis on Jan. 16, 2009, of violating the civil rights of an inmate at the Florida State Prison in Raiford while on duty as a supervisory corrections officer. The evidence at trial showed that he assaulted the victim by pouring a bottle of scalding water onto the inmate’s chest while the inmate was lying on the floor of his cell. The evidence showed that Tillis also failed to arrange for medical care for the victim, who suffered second degree burns on his chest as a result of this assault.

"Corrections officers must not misuse their positions of authority to inflict physical harm on inmates as punishment," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Civil Rights Division. "While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a lawful and professional manner, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit acts of cruelty such as this."

This case was investigated by agents from the FBI’s Jacksonville Division and the Florida Office of the Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac Heavener of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Douglas Kern.

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit unreasonable search and seizure, deprivation of property without due process of law and other acts of misconduct by law enforcement and other government officials. More information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and the laws it enforces, is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.

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