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Press Release

Former Mississippi Detention Officers Plead Guilty to Juvenile Assault and Cover-Up

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice announced that Edward Gibson, 28, an officer at a Mississippi juvenile detention facility, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to beating a juvenile in his custody. His supervisor, Dianne Williams, 60, pleaded guilty on April 17 to helping cover up the assault, a plea that had not been previously announced. Gibson’s indictment was unsealed in federal court on March 7 and a separate indictment unsealed on the same date charged Williams with writing a false report to cover up the assault. 

Gibson was working as an officer at the Leflore County Juvenile Detention Center on June 16, 2016, when he assaulted a teenage victim who was in handcuffs and leg shackles. Gibson threw an electric fan at the victim, hitting him in the upper chest. Gibson then punched the victim multiple times before being pulled off of the victim by two other officers. The other officers had to step in twice more to prevent Gibson from further assaulting the victim.

According to admissions made by Gibson during the plea hearing, the victim was never physically aggressive toward Gibson, and Gibson assaulted him only because the victim made statements that angered him. Gibson weighed approximately 315 pounds; the victim weighed approximately 130 pounds. 

Gibson faces a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled. 

Williams admitted that she was aware of the assault, failed to inform any responsible authority, and wrote a false report to cover it up. She pleaded guilty to misprision of a felony, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Her sentencing is set for Aug. 23.

“Detention officers have an important duty to protect juveniles from bodily harm or abuse while in custody,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “This Justice Department will not tolerate illegal acts of violence or attempts to obstruct justice by corrections officers, and will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals.” 

“Our Constitution and laws mandate that all prisoners and detainees be treated fairly and humanely and never face the excessive and unwarranted use of force employed in this case,” said U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar for the Northern District of Mississippi. “I know that our brothers and sisters in law enforcement feel the same and are ashamed by the actions of the abhorrent few.”

After the assault of the juvenile was discovered, the Detention Center fired Gibson and Williams.

This case was investigated by the Jackson Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the cooperation of the Leflore County Detention Center and the Leflore County Sheriff’s Department. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Mims of the Northern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.   

Updated May 8, 2018

Press Release Number: 19-598