Federal Indictments Unsealed In Cheatham County Taser Incident
Federal indictments were unsealed today charging current and former supervisory corrections officers at the Cheatham County Jail in Ashland City, Tennessee, with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee and Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. Former Corporal Mark Bryant is charged with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of obstruction of justice. Sergeant Gary Ola is charged with two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Both were arrested earlier today and will make initial appearances before a U.S. Magistrate Judge later this afternoon.
Bryant’s indictment alleges that, on November 5, 2016, he twice used unlawful force on a restrained 18-year-old detainee inside the jail. In the first incident, Bryant used a Taser to stun the detainee four times for a total of approximately 50 seconds while the detainee was in a restraint chair. In a second incident that occurred on the same night, Bryant Tased the detainee for approximately 11 seconds without legitimate justification after the detainee was placed in handcuffs and surrounded by multiple officers. As a result of these unjustified uses of force, the detainee sustained bodily injury. The indictment further charges that Bryant obstructed justice by submitting false reports about both incidents.
Ola’s indictment alleges that he made materially false statements to investigators in two separate interviews during the investigation of Bryant’s Taser usage. In August 2017, Ola falsely told agents with the FBI and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that he walked away from Bryant and did not see one or more of the Taser cycles that Bryant used on the restrained detainee. In a second interview with the FBI in May 2018, Ola stated falsely that he did not see Bryant Tase the detainee after officers placed the detainee in handcuffs.
If convicted, Bryant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the color of law charges and 20 years in prison for the obstruction charges, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Ola faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers of the Middle District of Tennessee and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.
An indictment is merely an accusation and not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.