Four former supervisory correctional officers at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana — Daniel Davis (43), Scotty Kennedy (52), John Sanders (34), and James Savoy, Jr. (42) — were sentenced on July 2, for their roles in assaulting an inmate who was handcuffed, shackled, and not resisting, and for conspiring to cover up their misconduct by devising a false cover story, submitting false reports documenting that cover story, tampering with witnesses, and lying under oath.
Kennedy, Sanders, and Savoy each pleaded guilty, and Davis was convicted in one trial of the obstruction and in another trial of the beating. At Davis’s trials, Kennedy and Sanders, among other officers, testified for the government and described the abuse and the extensive cover up.
The trial evidence established that Davis initiated the beating by yanking the inmate’s leg chains, causing the inmate to fall face-first onto the concrete breezeway. At that point, Davis and other officers punched, kicked, and stomped on the inmate, leaving the inmate with a dislocated shoulder, a hematoma, a collapsed lung, and broken ribs. Davis later ordered his subordinate officers to cover up the beating by falsifying reports, fabricating prison records, and lying to investigators.
District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced Davis, the ringleader of the beating and cover up, to 110 months of imprisonment. Sanders and Savoy were sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment, and 24 months of imprisonment, respectively. Kennedy, the least culpable officer, was sentenced to a 14 month term of probation during which he will be required to team up with the FBI to give presentations to federal, state, and local correctional officers about the consequences of using excessive force and falsifying reports.
“The Justice Department does not tolerate assault by correctional officers of the people they are charged with protecting,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The division works tirelessly to protect the civil rights of all citizens.”
“Corrections officers are sworn to protect those within our prison systems,” said Brandon J. Fremin U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. “Those officers who carry out vicious attacks such as this strip citizens of their basic civil rights and dishonor the work of honest law enforcement officers. The sentences handed down today serve as an example of officials being held accountable for violations of the public trust that was placed in them.”
“Along with our partners, the FBI will aggressively investigate allegations wherein correctional officers abuse their position of power and authority over prisoners to deny them their constitutional right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment,” said Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran. “The FBI is appreciative of its partnerships with the Office of the State Inspector General, the Louisiana Department of Corrections and especially the Investigative Support Unit at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, to root out correctional officers who choose to break the law and physically abuse restrained inmates.”
“The rule of law suffers the most whenever those in positions of trust abuse that trust,” said Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street. “This is especially true of corrections officers, who are given great power over inmates. Beating a handcuffed and shackled inmate, as these defendants did, is a clear violation of the law and the United States Constitution, and can never be tolerated. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to relentlessly pursue these cases whenever and wherever they may arise. I want to thank U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin and his staff, the U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division, as well as the FBI and Department of Corrections for their work on this case.”
The internal investigation into this incident, which resulted in the termination of all four officers, was led by Colonel Michael Vaughn and Captain Doug McDonald of Angola Prison’s Investigative Services Unit. The federal investigation was led by the FBI’s Baton Rouge Resident Agency Office, with assistance from the Louisiana State Inspector General’s Office. The federal case was tried by Special Litigation Counsel Christopher J. Perras and Trial Attorneys Zachary Dembo and Anita Channapati of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section in partnership with Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick A. Menner, Jr. of the Middle District of Louisiana.