A former jail administrator at the Cibola County Detention Center in Grants, N.M., was sentenced today to 97 months in prison, two years of supervised release and a $400 special assessment for violating the rights of inmates in his custody at two separate New Mexico jails. Judge James O. Browning announced the sentence today in federal court in Albuquerque, N.M.
John Gould was convicted by a federal jury on April 2, 2007, of two felony civil rights violations and two counts of obstruction of justice. According to the evidence presented at trial, on Oct. 16, 2002, while Gould was a Lieutenant and Shift Commander at the Dona Ana County Detention Center in Las Cruces, N.M., he aided and abetted officers he supervised in assaulting an inmate without justification. Specifically, the jury heard evidence that Gould applied pepper spray directly into the eyes of the inmate and then slammed his head to the floor multiple times even though the inmate was restrained on the floor and was not posing a threat to officers. As a result of this assault, the inmate suffered a fractured shoulder that required surgery and multiple rib fractures. Following the incident, Gould wrote a false official report about his actions and made false statements to the FBI and a federal grand jury. Five other corrections officers entered guilty pleas to civil rights and obstruction of justice charges in connection with this incident.
The jury also heard evidence that on March 4, 2004, Gould, while working as the administrator of the Cibola County Detention Center and after he had already been indicted for the incident at the Dona Ana County jail, shot a naked inmate twelve times in his back and buttocks with projectiles from a riot control weapon. At the time Gould deployed the weapon through an open food port window, the inmate was locked inside a holding cell and was not posing a threat to any officer. As a result of this assault, the inmate suffered multiple flesh wounds that became infected, requiring the inmate to be hospitalized for several days. Once again, following the assault, Gould wrote a false official report and made false statements about the incident.
"Law enforcement officers are given tremendous authority and responsibility so that they can protect and serve the public trust," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "Those who abuse this authority face serious consequences. The Civil Rights Division is committed to prosecuting all cases of official misconduct and to bringing these individuals to justice."
The case was prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Kristy Parker and Deputy Chief Mark Blumberg of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico, and was investigated by FBI Special Agent Brian Russ.