Mississippi Corrections Officers Sentenced for Inmate Assault and Cover-Up
Deonte Pate, 24, was sentenced to 5 years of probation with 12 weeks of weekend confinement for conspiring to cover up the beating of an inmate identified by his initials, K.H. Pate acknowledged that he submitted false reports and lied to the FBI in order to prevent knowledge of the beating from reaching outside authorities. Romander Nelson, 44, was sentenced to 5 years of probation, 14 weeks of weekend confinement, and a $500 fine for failing to protect the victim during the beating.
The victim, was temporarily blinded by the attack and suffered severe blood loss, a broken orbital bone, and permanent partial vision loss.
Pate and Nelson were charged in 2016 along with two other officers: Lawardrick Marsher, 28, and Robert Sturdivant, 47. All four were officers at Mississippi State Penitentiary, in Parchman, Mississippi.
Marsher has pleaded guilty to carrying out the assault; Sturdivant, a supervisor, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to cover the assault up. Marsher and Sturdivant are scheduled to be sentenced on June 15 for their roles in the crime.
“Every corrections officer owes a duty of honesty and integrity to the individuals under his or her protection,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler. “The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring the rights of all citizens, including those in our nation’s jails and prisons.”
"The FBI's mission is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States," said Christopher Freeze, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. "This protection extends to those serving time for various offenses in jails and prisons throughout the United States. The constitution provides no protection to those hiding behind a correctional officer uniform and abusing the authority given to them. The FBI will continue to aggressively investigate any allegations of civil rights violations."
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division, with the cooperation of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Coleman of the Northern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.