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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Former Mamou, Louisiana, Police Chief Sentenced for Using Taser on Non-Combative Prisoner

The Justice Department announced today that former Mamou, Louisiana, Police Chief Robert McGee, 44, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison for depriving an inmate at the Mamou jail of his federally protected rights by using a taser on the compliant inmate.  McGee’s conviction was the result of a federal investigation into the illegal use of excessive force upon inmates at the Mamou jail that also led to the 2015 civil rights conviction of former Mamou Police Chief Gregory Dupuis for unlawfully using a taser against a different jail inmate. 

McGee, of Mamou, pleaded guilty on Oct. 13, 2015, to one count of violation of an individual’s civil rights and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard T. Haik Sr. of the Western District of Louisiana.  On Oct. 13, 2015, Judge Haik sentenced Dupuis to one year and a day in prison.

According to evidence presented at McGee’s plea hearing, McGee went to the jail on Aug. 6, 2010, to deal with an inmate who had been verbally, but not physically, disruptive.  McGee engaged the inmate in conversation as a second officer unlocked the cell.  After the cell door was opened, McGee pointed his taser at the inmate and discharged his taser into the inmate’s chest and abdomen area, even though the inmate was compliant and made no aggressive moves toward the officers or any other person.  The five-second electric shock caused the inmate to fall against the wall of the cell and experience physical pain.  At his plea hearing, McGee admitted that he knew at the time that his actions were unlawful. 

McGee, who was elected Mamou police chief after this incident, resigned his position as chief on Oct. 8, 2015, as a result of the federal investigation.

“Law enforcement officers are entrusted with the authority to use force for legitimate law enforcement purposes, including maintaining discipline in jails,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “However, the defendant abused that trust by deploying a Taser on a compliant detainee.”

“Law enforcement officers have a duty to ensure that those in their custody are treated fairly and humanely when taken into custody,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana.  “Mr. McGee breached that trust and violated his oath by using excessive force on an incarcerated individual who complied with orders.”

The case was being investigated by the FBI and the Louisiana State Police.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Stephen Curran and Mary Hahn of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Myers P. Namie and Robert Abendroth of the Western District of Louisiana.

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
Updated February 8, 2016