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Press Release

Four Former Georgia Correctional Officers Sentenced for Assaults on Inmate and Cover-Up

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Four former supervisory and deputy correctional officers at the Valdosta State Prison in Valdosta, Georgia, were sentenced today in federal court in the Middle District of Georgia for their roles in orchestrating, administering and then seeking to conceal the beating of a handcuffed inmate in their custody. Lieutenant Geary Staten, 31, Sergeant Patrick Sharpe, 30, and Deputy Correctional Officers Brian Ford, 25, and Jamal Scott, 35, were each sentenced to periods of incarceration for their respective roles in the incident. Sharpe was also sentenced for beating a different inmate during a separate incident.

“These officers’ efforts to organize, execute, and then cover up a retaliatory assault on a handcuffed, compliant inmate are an egregious abuse of power,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These sentences make clear that no one is above the law, and that when officers violate the civil rights of people under their supervision – through violence or obstruction – they will be held accountable.”

“This case serves as a reminder that individuals — no matter their status — will be held accountable for their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary of the Middle District of Georgia. “When sworn officers do violence against inmates, they damage society’s trust in law enforcement and tarnish the reputation of the many worthy individuals who accept the dangerous responsibility of policing our prisons.”

“By violating their oaths, these officers betrayed everyone in law enforcement who works the dangerous jobs behind prison walls,” said Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley for the FBI Atlanta Field Division. “These sentences should serve as a warning the FBI will always pursue charges against anyone who takes an oath but then lowers themselves to the same level as the criminals they are sworn to protect.”

According to court documents and statements made during the sentencing hearings, on Dec. 29, 2018, Sharpe, while on duty, instructed his subordinate officers – Ford and Scott – to assault a handcuffed inmate in retaliation for an earlier altercation between that inmate and a female officer at the prison. Specifically, Sharpe, along with Ford, Scott and several other correctional officers, escorted the handcuffed inmate to an outdoor area on the grounds of the prison for the purpose of assaulting him. Scott and Ford, carrying out a directive from Sharpe, took the inmate to the ground and struck him multiple times in the body. The inmate was handcuffed and compliant at the time of the assault. Following the assault, Staten, who was aware that officers had used unlawful force on the inmate, then took steps to conceal the offense, instead of reporting or otherwise notifying law enforcement. Specifically, Staten expressly directed the involved officers not to write any report regarding the unlawful use of force, and failed to write such a report himself, despite knowing such a report was required.

Sharpe was also sentenced in connection with a second incident, involving the beating of a different inmate that took place several months earlier. Specifically, on Sept. 24, 2018, while on duty as a correctional officer, Sharpe assaulted a handcuffed inmate in retaliation for an earlier interaction between the inmate and a different female officer. While escorting the inmate across the prison grounds, Sharpe wrapped a pair of handcuffs around his fist and punched the inmate three times – twice to the inmate’s face and once to the back of his head. As a result of the assault, the inmate briefly lost consciousness and suffered lacerations to his face and head. The inmate was restrained and compliant at the time of the assault.

At the sentencing hearing, the government noted the substantial assistance provided by Ford and Scott during the investigation, and requested that they receive a lesser sentence as a result of their notable willingness to take responsibility for their conduct and provide honest and helpful information concerning the incident. Federal District Court Judge Hugh Lawson sentenced Sharpe to 48 months in prison; Staten to 14 months in prison; Scott to 12 months in prison; and Ford to 12 months and a day in prison for their respective roles in the offense(s).

Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Leary and Special Agent in Charge Farley made the announcement.

The FBI and a local task-force-officer partner investigated the case. Trial Attorneys Katherine G. DeVar and Nicole Raspa of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

Updated September 22, 2022

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 22-999