WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAFB) - A former major at Louisiana State Penitentiary was found guilty in federal court on Sunday, Feb. 2 for his role in the beating of a handcuffed and shackled inmate. The former major was also found guilty of failing to intervene to keep people working under him from participating in the beating.
During a previous trial in January of 2018, Davis was convicted of conspiring with other officers in an attempt to cover up the beating. The Department of Justice (DOJ) says they made up a false cover story, submitted false reports to document said cover story, tampered with witnesses, and lied under oath. Davis was convicted during this trial, but was granted a mistrial based on juror misconduct.
The four other former officers involved, Capt. James Savoy, Capt. John Sanders, Capt. Scotty Kennedy, and Sgt. Willie Thomas, all previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the incident. The DOJ says at Davis’ trial, Sanders and Kennedy both testified, describing the abuse and “extensive” cover-up.
The jury heard testimony for three days, then convicted Davis of willfully depriving the inmate of his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The DOJ says evidence showed Davis initiated the beating by grabbing the inmate’s leg chains, causing the inmate to fall on his face in a concrete breezeway. Then, Davis and the others began to beat the inmate, kicking and stomping him, leaving him with a dislocated shoulder, a hematoma, a collapsed lung, and broken ribs.
“The Constitution and its Bill of Rights protect all people in our nation from unlawful abuse by the government, and the Department of Justice will continue to prosecute officers who willfully violate the Constitution by abusing their power over those in custody,” said Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “This officer violated his oath and the law, and the Department of Justice will not tolerate this kind of criminal misconduct by correctional officers.”
“Corrections officers are charged with the duty of protecting the public, not abusing those who have been lawfully incarcerated. This district contains several penal institutions, and this should serve as a warning to those who would abuse their power that federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will relentlessly pursue those who violate the public trust. I commend all of the agencies responsible for this conviction, and want to thank them for their partnership in this important matter," US Attorney Brandon Fremin stated.
Currently, no date has been set for Davis’ sentencing. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy and perjury charges, 10 years in prison for the use of excessive force charge, and 20 years in prison of each remaining count of obstruction of justice.