FORMER TUSCALOOSA COUNTY SHERIFF’S SERGEANT SENTENCED FOR CRIMINAL CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
BIRMINGHAM – U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins today sentenced former Tuscaloosa Sheriff’s sergeant, ALTHEA MALLISHAM 52, to five years in prison for civil rights convictions for wrongfully using a Taser against three detainees during separate incidents over a four month period in 2008, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Maley.
Judge Hopkins ordered Mallisham to report to prison June 5.
Mallisham pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2011, to three felony civil rights offenses. In her plea, she admitted that on separate occasions while on duty as a Tuscaloosa Sheriff's sergeant and acting under color of state law, she used an X26 Taser to electro-shock three pre-trial detainees as a means of punishment. In each instance, the pre-trial detainees were either restrained in handcuffs or securely locked in a jail cell. None of the three detainees posed 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.
“Officer Mallisham took an oath to uphold the law. Virtually all of our law enforcement officers respect their oaths and the power they are entrusted with to enforce the law, and they perform their duties with honor and integrity,” Vance said. “Mallisham, however, violated her oath and broke the law. Today, she has been held accountable and sentenced to five years in prison.”
“Citizens have to be able to trust law enforcement to protect their rights in all situations, including if they are in custody,” Maley said. “Unlike most law enforcement officers who serve honorably, this officer crossed the line. When that happens, the FBI will be there to investigate and make sure they are held accountable.”
This case was investigated by the Tuscaloosa resident agency of the FBI’s Birmingham Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamarra Matthews-Johnson for the Northern District of Alabama and Trial Attorney D.W. Tunnage of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
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