Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke Delivers Opening Statement Before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government
Three former Mississippi Department of Corrections officials were sentenced today for using excessive force against an inmate, involving the use of dangerous weapons and resulting in bodily injury.
According to court documents, on July 11, 2019, at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, Corrections Officer (CO) Jessica Hill, CO LaToya Richardson and Case Manager Nicole Moore assaulted a defenseless inmate, L.C., while L.C. was in the fetal position and not resisting in any fashion. Hill struck L.C. several times with an OC cannister and then repeatedly punched her in the head. Richardson kicked the inmate four times in the head and upper torso, and Moore kicked L.C. one time in the back of the head. Hill continued to strike L.C., who was still laying on the ground in the fetal position, until fellow prison staff intervened to stop Hill’s assault.
All three defendants previously pleaded guilty to their respective roles assaulting L.C., in violation of the inmate’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Hill was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, two years of supervised release and a $1,500 fine. Richardson was sentenced to three years and one month in prison, two years of supervised release and a $1,500 fine. Moore was sentenced to two years in prison, two years of supervised release and a $1,500 fine.
“These defendants are being held accountable for their criminal abuse of their authority by using excessive force against an inmate who was not resisting them,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting prison officials who violate the law and their oaths by subjecting inmates in their custody to cruel and unusual punishment.”
“The defendants in this case ignored their sworn duty to protect inmates and chose violence instead,” said U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi. “We will continue to prosecute those who abuse their positions of authority and violate the civil rights of inmates.”
“Our citizens serving time for their criminal acts against the public are warranted the safety and protection from harm by correctional officers responsible for their care,” said Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the FBI Jackson Field Office. “Hill’s deliberate violation of this trust is a disservice to those in the penal system, correctional officials who are honorable in their profession and citizens in general. The FBI is committed to protecting all citizens of our community.”
The FBI Jackson Field Office investigated the case.
Trial Attorney Eric Peffley of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenda Haynes for the Southern District of Mississippi prosecuted the case.