Former Jail Sergeant Sentenced to Federal Prison For Abusing Inmate at DeKalb County Jail
Dwight Hamilton, 54, of Atlanta, Georgia, was today sentenced to one year in prison, three years’ supervised release, and a $100 special assessment for abusing a female inmate by tasing her without any legitimate justification. Leonard Dreyer, Hamilton’s former supervisor at the jail, was sentenced on Tuesday to one year of probation conditioned upon his serving 21 days in a halfway house for attempting to obstruct the federal investigation into Hamilton’s use of excessive force by making false statements to the FBI.
At the sentencing, Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said Mr. Hamilton’s actions showed an “extraordinary absence of empathy,” and that Hamilton “was out of control and a lot of people suffered because of it.”
“Hamilton’s unjustified violent actions grossly violated the civil rights of an inmate whom he had a sworn duty to protect,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “Any unlawful act of violence or malice by an officer against an inmate will not be tolerated by this Department of Justice.”
“Abuse of power by any law enforcement officer is always unacceptable,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “Law enforcement officers stand in the gap every day to keep us safe, whether they are patrolling a beat, or a correctional officer working in a jail or prison. Hamilton’s conduct is not reflective of how we expect officers to conduct themselves. In this country, even those incarcerated have the right to fair treatment and decency.”
Hamilton, who worked as a sergeant at the DeKalb County Jail, admitted during his guilty plea that on Nov. 1, 2011, he responded to the medical floor of the jail when an inmate asked to speak to a supervisor because her family visitation had been unexpectedly cancelled by jail staff. Rather than explain the situation to the inmate, Hamilton tased the inmate until she defecated on herself. Hamilton, who had been trained on proper Taser usage, admitted that he knew that tasing the inmate under these circumstances was wrong but did it anyway. As a result of the tasing, the inmate suffered permanent scarring to her breast.
When Hamilton is released from prison, he will be under federal supervision for three years. Hamilton pleaded guilty to his charge on Nov. 20, 2017.
This case was investigated by the Atlanta Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brent Alan Gray and Trial Attorney Christopher Perras of the Civil Rights Division.