A federal judge Monday sentenced former Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark A. Cowden, of Weirton, West Virginia, to 18 months in prison for using excessive force
The sentencing followed a five-day trial in federal court, according to officials.
A jury found Cowden, 51, guilty of deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law. Evidence indicated that Cowden, who was then serving as a lieutenant with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, used excessive force on an arrestee in handcuffs in the lobby of the sheriff’s office in January 2015.
Jurors were shown evidence that Cowden forced the arrestee face-first into a brick wall, slammed the arrestee’s head into the wall and then punched the arrestee in the back of the head with a closed fist, according to officials.
The entire incident was captured by video surveillance.
“The defendant abused his power as a law enforcement official, using excessive force to harm a person in his custody,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Actions like these violate federal law and erode public trust. This conviction and sentence send a clear message that the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute officer misconduct and protect the integrity of our justice system.”
“Former deputy Cowden’s prosecution and conviction by a jury of his peers, the sentence imposed by the court and the fact that he will never serve another day as a police officer, reinforces to the people of West Virginia the seriousness of the law enforcement community’s commitment to police its own and to remain accountable to the public whom they have sworn to serve and protect,” said U.S. Attorney Steinfeld Jividen.
Adding,“The unlawful actions of this defendant undermine the character and reputation of the members of our law enforcement community, who follow their training and who strive to promote a culture of fairness, professionalism and respect for the law in their dealings with every individual – regardless of that person’s alleged actions.”
The family posted the following on Facebook:
Please sign and share to help support my dad. This means everything to me.
By ELISE COWDEN