Louisiana: ex-Prison guard admits pepper-spraying handcuffed inmates eyes

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on February 1st, 2019

Louisiana: A third former prison guard has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, saying he led other guards at a privately run Louisiana prison in spritzing pepper spray into the eyes of kneeling, handcuffed inmates.

Roderick Douglas pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of inmates.

Two ex-guards pleaded guilty to a coverup conspiracy. Two more remain scheduled for trial in federal court in Monroe.

Douglas’ signed statement is the most detailed so far. He says he sprayed two inmates, then gave the can to three codefendants who sprayed three other inmates.

He signed the plea agreement Tuesday. It was filed Wednesday and entered into online federal court records Friday.

Douglas is scheduled for sentencing June 5.

Below is a justice department statement:

Former Supervisor at Louisiana Correctional Facility Pleads Guilty to Violating Civil Rights of Five Inmates

The Justice Department today announced that defendant Roderick Douglas, a former supervisor at the Richwood Correctional Center, pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday for his role in a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of five inmates. Douglas, 38, of Monroe, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiring with five other officers to violate the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana David C. Joseph made the announcement.

“Correctional officers who abuse their power and inflict cruel and unusual punishment against the inmates under their care, violate the Constitution,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute unlawful misconduct by correctional officers to protect victims of these abuses and to ensure the integrity of our civil rights laws.”

“The men and women who work in our prison system have a difficult and dangerous job,” U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph stated. “However, we expect our correctional facility employees to be professional and respectful of others’ rights. Those who fail to do so will be held accountable.”

According to his guilty plea, Douglas worked as a Captain at the Richwood Correctional Center in Richwood, Louisiana, where on Oct. 30, 2016 he and other officers conspired to inflict 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. Douglas admitted that he and the other officers attempted 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. Douglas is scheduled to be sentenced on June 10, 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 of the 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.

Leave a Reply