Former Richwood correctional officer pleads guilty to covering up physical assault of inmates
MONROE, La. – The Justice Department and U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph announced today that former Richwood Correctional Center officer Demario Shaffer pleaded guilty Monday in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to cover up the physical assault of five inmates by himself and other correctional officers in violation of the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Shaffer, 33, of Delhi, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsify documents with the intent to obstruct and influence a matter within federal jurisdiction. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division and David C. Joseph, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, made the announcement.
“A correctional officer who uses excessive force against an inmate and then falsifies official reports violates the Constitution and its provision to protect all incarcerated offenders from cruel and unusual punishment,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Justice Department will continue to aggressively prosecute such misconduct to ensure the integrity of our civil rights laws.”
“Correctional officers are not allowed to abuse prisoners,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph. “They must follow the law and not use their position of authority to assault those under their supervision.”
According to his guilty plea, Shaffer worked as a Sergeant at the Richwood Correctional Center in Monroe, where on October 30, 2016, he and other officers inflicted cruel and unusual punishment upon five inmates by spraying a chemical agent in their face and eyes while the inmates were handcuffed, compliant, kneeling on the floor, and not posing a physical threat to anyone. Shaffer admitted that he conspired with the other officers to hide their conduct by submitting a false story in their official reports concerning the incident.
The count of conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a criminal fine of up to $250,000. Shaffer is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1, 2019 by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana, who accepted the plea.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Mudrick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Louisiana, and Trial Attorney Anita Channapati of the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, U.S. Department of Justice. The case was investigated by the Monroe Division of the FBI.