Emmett McKenzie, 31, from Montezuma, Ga., formerly a sergeant at Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe, Ga., pleaded guilty to conspiring with other correctional officers to violate the civil rights of an inmate in 2010, the Justice Department Announced today. McKenzie, who most recently served as a lieutenant at Dooly State Prison in Unadilla, Ga., is the third officer to plead guilty in the course of the ongoing federal investigation.
In connection with his plea, McKenzie admitted that he saw members of the Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) as they escorted an inmate, T.D., from the scene of an incident, to the gym. McKenzie acknowledged that he knew that the officers would assault T.D. in the gym.
McKenzie went into the gym and approached the inmate, who was handcuffed and surrounded by CERT, and told him, “Don’t mess with my officers.” A CERT member then punched the inmate and threw him to the ground, and defendant McKenzie did nothing to stop the assault. Instead, McKenzie left the gym, knowing that CERT members would continue to beat the inmate. McKenzie told Macon State Prison supervisors that the CERT members were beating inmate T.D., but the supervisors also took no action to stop the assault on the inmate.
McKenzie faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
“Mr. McKenzie is the third person to admit that he conspired to injure inmates, and that he tried to cover up criminal misconduct by Macon State Prison officers,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute correctional officers who violate the constitutional rights of inmates.”
“We count on the guards in our prison system to not only do an important job, but to do their duties in a way that respects their positions of authority, the law and ultimately the population they supervise,” said Michael J. Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Abuses of authority, under any circumstances, have no place in our prison system and will not be tolerated by my office.”
This case is being investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the support of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.