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August 26, 2009

FORMER TDCJ CORRECTION OFFICER SENTENCED FOR LYING ABOUT HIS ASSAULT ON AN INMATE

(HOUSTON) -  A former Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) corrections officer has been sentenced to prison for filling a false “use-of-force” report regarding the assault of a former inmate, United States Attorney Tim Johnson and acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice announced today.

Eugene Morris, 41, was convicted by a jury in May 2008 of filing a false official “use-of-force” report regarding his assault of a then inmate of the Ferguson Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, but acquitted of causing bodily injury to the inmate and persuading other officers to make false statements. Today, United States District Judge Nancy F. Atlas, who presided over the trial of this case, sentenced Morris to 24 months in federal prison to be followed by a two-year-term of supervised release.

At trial, the jury heard testimony that in November 2002, Morris, then a TDCJ Sergeant entrusted with the care and supervision of inmates at the Ferguson Unit, repeatedly kicked an inmate in the head as the inmate lay on the floor causing severe head trauma. Earlier the same day, the inmate used racial slurs while threatening another officer. The officer reported the inmate’s misconduct to Morris. Morris, according to the testimony, thereafter entered the inmate’s cell, cuffed the inmates hands behind his back and escorted the inmate to his office. In the office, behind closed doors, Morris angrily confronted the inmate about his treatment of the other officer, then knocked the inmate to the floor and repeatedly kicked the handcuffed inmate in the head with a booted foot.  

However, in his official “use-of-force” report of the incident, Morris claimed he caught the inmate in a bear-hug and forced him to the floor because the inmate had kicked him in the shin and tried to head-butt him. Morris claimed in his report that the inmate’s head injuries were the result of the inmate’s head hitting the floor as Morris forced him to the floor. The inmate sustained severe  head trauma, including brain injuries and multiple facial and skull fractures and was unconscious for a week after the assault. Testimony proved it took the inmate months to relearn how to use his right arm and leg, and continues to have trouble with his balance and fine motor control in his right hand. Even at trial, the inmate had no memory of the assault nor the days in the hospital that followed.

An expert in injury causation analysis, testified at trial that the inmate’s head injuries could not have been caused merely by an impact with the floor as Morris claimed. He told the jury the inmate’s injuries were caused by multiple focused blows and consistent with repeated kicks with a booted foot.

At trial, Morris testified and maintained his “use of force” report was accurate.

Morris, who has been free on bond, has been permitted to remain on bond pending a court order directing him to surrender to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

The case against Morris was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Ruben R. Perez and Trial Attorney Edward Caspar of the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, prosecuted the case.

 

 

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