WASHINGTON – Former Tuscaloosa, Ala., Sheriff’s Sergeant, Althea Mallisham, 52, pleaded guilty today in a federal court in Birmingham, Ala., to three counts of assault with a dangerous weapon while acting under color of law for wrongfully using a Taser during three separate incidents over a four month period in 2008, announced the Justice Department.
In the factual basis supporting her plea, Mallisham admitted that on three separate occasions while she was on duty as a Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s sergeant, she used an X26 Taser to electro-shock three different pre-trial detainees as a means of punishment. In each instance, the pre-trial detainee was either restrained in handcuffs or securely locked in a jail cell. At no time, however, did the three detainees pose a physical threat to any officers or other detainees when they were electro-shocked. In each instance, Mallisham willfully exceeded and abused her authority under state law.
“This correction officer deliberately inflicted significant pain on those entrusted to her care for no legitimate law enforcement purpose,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “Her criminal behavior undermines the dedicated efforts of the vast majority of officers who serve honorably. The Justice Department is committed to holding officers who engage in such criminal acts accountable.”
“Law enforcement officers are entrusted with great power so they can do their job and protect the public,” said Joyce White Vance, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. “Most officers respect that power and the laws they are sworn to uphold, performing their duties with honor and integrity. It is important that officers who use unreasonable force have to answer for their action.”
Sentencing for Mallisham is scheduled for March 15, 2012. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, for each count.
This case was investigated by the Tuscaloosa resident agency of the FBI’s Birmingham Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney D.W. Tunnage of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamarra Matthews Johnson for the Northern District of Alabama.