Former Hancock County, West Virginia, Sheriff’s Deputy Mark A. Cowden, 51, of Weirton, West Virginia, was convicted by a jury Monday of using excessive force against a suspect, officials announced.
Following a five-day trial, a jury found Cowden, who is also the Republic candidate for sheriff, guilty of one count of deprivation of rights.
The evidence indicated that Cowden, who was then serving as a lieutenant with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, escorted a handcuffed arrestee into a Hancock County building in order to process his arrest.
Once Cowden and five other officers entered the building with the arrestee, Cowden slammed the handcuffed arrestee face-first into a brick wall and punched him in the head, according to officials.
“When law enforcement officials flout the law they take an oath to uphold, their actions erode trust in our public institutions,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Like all communities, the people of Hancock County expect and deserve a justice system anchored in accountability. The Justice Department will continue to prosecute criminal misconduct that offends the core purpose and mission of law enforcement.”
“When Mark Cowden first became a deputy sheriff, he promised to serve and protect all citizens,” said U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld. “He broke that promise when he physically assaulted a handcuffed man. His actions should not reflect upon the vast majority of officers who bravely perform their jobs everyday with professionalism and integrity.”
Cowden faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The FBI investigated this case.
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