Skip to main content
Press Release

Kentucky Deputy Jailer Convicted of Assaulting Inmate

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal jury in Paducah, Kentucky, convicted a deputy jailer at the Fulton County Detention Center of violating the civil rights of an inmate by assaulting him with a dangerous weapon. The jury convicted James Eakes, 54, of willfully depriving an inmate of the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. According to evidence and testimony, Eakes repeatedly tased inmate L.B. after L.B. cursed at him. 

“The Department of Justice does not tolerate any physical abuse of inmates, especially by a correctional officer entrusted to their care,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to uphold the Constitution and obtain justice for the victims of civil rights abuses.”

“The rule of law applies equally to all persons in our Commonwealth,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “And we will enforce the law without regard to position or office held.”

The evidence and testimony revealed that Eakes was first called to L.B.’s cell because L.B. told guards he was suicidal. As required by the jail’s procedures, Eakes and two other female deputy jailers then removed all of L.B.’s possessions from his cell and made L.B. strip naked. Eakes left the cell and closed the door, which automatically locked, leaving L.B. in his cell with only an anti-suicide garment.

The evidence and testimony showed that, after he was locked in his cell, L.B. cursed at Eakes from behind the cell door. Eakes then ordered that the door be unlocked, removed his Taser from his holster, opened the door, and immediately shot L.B. with his Taser. Eakes then entered L.B.’s cell, and, while activating the Taser, repeatedly yelled at L.B. not to curse at him again. Despite the fact that L.B. took no aggressive action towards Eakes and remained slumped against the cell wall, Eakes tased L.B. two additional times.

Eakes faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.  Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 30.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Madison Sewell of the Western District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Zachary Dembo of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case. Trial Attorney Sanjay Patel of the Civil Rights Division also assisted in the investigation.

Updated May 1, 2019

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 19-451