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Press Release

Former Sergeant Sentenced to Prison for Violating Civil Rights of Detainee

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

David Prejean, a former Sergeant in the K-9 Unit of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office (IPSO), was sentenced yesterday to serve 30 months in prison and one year supervised release on his guilty plea to violating the civil rights of a detainee, announced John Gore, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, David C. Joseph, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, and FBI New Orleans Division Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal. Prejean previously admitted, during a guilty plea hearing, that he acted without legal justification on Dec. 6, 2012, when he commanded his K-9 to bite the detainee, and then struck the detainee, resulting in bodily injury.

According to statements made in court and filings made in connection with the guilty plea, Prejean was a K-9 Sergeant on the IMPACT Unit, a specialized unit at IPSO, when he was called to the Iberia Parish Jail on Dec. 6, 2012, to assist with a shakedown. During the course of the shakedown, an inmate turned to look at Prejean after being told not to, at which point Prejean threw the inmate to the ground and then commanded his dog to bite him. Prejean also struck the inmate several times.  Despite the fact that the inmate had complied with Prejean’s commands and did not pose a threat to anyone on the rec yard, Prejean allowed the dog to bite the inmate for several seconds before pulling the K9 away. Prejean’s unlawful use of force resulted in injury to the inmate. Following the assault, Prejean wrote false report designed to cover up his unjustified use of force.

“The United States Constitution protects all individuals, including those who are incarcerated,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Justice Department will uphold the rule of law and aggressively prosecute any violation of an inmate’s civil rights.”  

“Law enforcement officers face danger in the field every day protecting the rights and safety of those in our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph. “It is necessary that they follow the laws they are sworn to protect. Our district takes violations of the law seriously and will hold those accountable those who ignore those laws, especially those who tasked with their enforcement.”

“FBI New Orleans vigorously investigates all credible allegations of civil rights violations, including those who are incarcerated,” FBI New Orleans Division Special Agent in Charge Eric J. Rommal stated. “Violations of one’s civil rights will not be tolerated.”

This case was investigated by the Lafayette Resident Agency of the FBI, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Mudrick of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd of the Civil Rights Division.

Updated September 25, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-1243