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Press Release

Two Former Tennessee Department of Corrections Officers Plead Guilty for Their Roles in the Assault of an Inmate

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Two former tactical officers for the Tennessee Department of Corrections Strike Force pleaded guilty for their roles in the assault of an inmate and the cover up that followed at Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, Tennessee.

Javian Griffin, 38, of Nashville pleaded guilty yesterday to using unlawful force on an inmate and to providing false information in his official report for the incident. His co-defendant, Sebron Hollands, 33, of Clarksville pleaded guilty last week to providing false information in his official report regarding the same incident.

“These two defendants used their power as correctional officers to engage in criminal conduct that victimized a person in state custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to hold accountable correctional officers who assault inmates and then try to cover up their criminal conduct.”

“We look to corrections officers to keep prisons safe and secure and to carry out their duties with the utmost integrity,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “Instead of upholding and enforcing the oath he took, this officer used his position of authority to violate an inmate’s rights and then conceal the harm he caused. No correctional officer is above the law. This office’s National Security and Civil Rights Unit will continue to prioritize the prosecution of public employees who violate the civil rights of others.”

“Correctional officers who abuse their authority and harm or cover up harm to inmates whose safety they are charged with undermine the criminal justice system as a whole,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas S. DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “The FBI is committed to protecting the civil rights of all people and will aggressively investigate and bring to justice any officer who violates the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect.”

According to court documents, Griffin admitted that he punched an inmate, identified as K.W., in the head without justification, breaking his jaw. Griffin admitted that at the time he punched K.W., the inmate did not resist or pose a threat justifying his use of force. Griffin and Hollands each admitted that they provided false information in their official reports to obstruct the investigation of the incident.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, the parties agreed to jointly recommend that Griffin serve a 48-month prison sentence. Hollands faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for his false report. Sentencing is scheduled for Griffin on March 5, 2024. Sentencing is scheduled for Hollands on Jan. 19, 2024. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Memphis Field Office investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard for the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorneys Andrew Manns and Matthew Tannenbaum for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

Updated October 12, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-1068