ST. GABRIEL, LA (WAFB) - The FBI confirms a 9News Investigative report by opening an investigation into six officers accused in the alleged beating of an inmate at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center.
9News Investigators first reported photographs provided by the inmate, identified as John Harrold, 34. They show what appear to be injuries to his head, leg, and foot. His sister, Tina Harrold, said the photographs were sent from inside of the prison.
"The New Orleans FBI Field Office, the Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Louisiana have opened a civil rights investigation into an alleged incident at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center," said Special Agent In Charge Jeff Sallet. "The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and will ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner. As this is an ongoing investigation we are not able to comment further at this time."
RELATED STORIES: Investigation into alleged inmate abuse at Hunt Correctional
The alleged beating happened in early January.
Six corrections officers are now on administrative leave, accused of using excessive force against Harrold.
"The pictures were disturbing," said St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau.
The St. Gabriel Police Department was named the lead agency on the investigation, but Chief Ambeau said after interviewing at least 25 witnesses, he has determined the case is so complex he needed to ask for others to get involved.
Ambeau also said the case files include the pictures, interviews, and statements from Hunt employees and inmates. He said surveillance cameras inside the facility do not show footage inside the cell where Harrold was allegedly beaten. The Department of Corrections has not released the names of the officers under investigation, but Chief Ambeau indicated some of them are well known at Hunt.
"I don't know how many years they had at the prison. I know some of them were pretty high ranking," said Ambeau.
The inmate's sister said that her brother is in a wheelchair and is still suffering from his injuries. She said relatives are glad to hear the FBI is on the case.
"Justice for me and my family would be for these officers doing these things to be brought to justice and taken out of the system, because obviously they are in there for the wrong reasons," said Tina Harrold.
Ambeau said he does not have an estimate of how long the federal investigation might take.