A federal grand jury indicted four former jail guards from the Jackson County Detention Center for beating an inmate, according to officials from the Department of Justice.
The four were charged for their roles in a conspiracy to assault the inmate, a violation of his constitutional rights.
Travis Hewitt, 27, Dakota Pearce, 24, Terrance Dooley, Jr., 36, and Jen-I Pulos, 36, all of Kansas City, Missouri, were charged in a four-count indictment returned this week.
“The Civil Rights Division will continue to prosecute corrections officers who exploit their position and violently assault individuals in their custody,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department will continue to hold accountable those who act under color of law for the purpose of harming individuals in their custody.”
Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Larson for the Western District of Missouri said: “Correctional officers who physically assault a shackled inmate in violation of his civil rights will be held accountable for their actions.”
In June, we investigated reports of raw sewage overflowing into cells, and according to an inmate’s account, the cells were left that way for days, according to a story on KSHB TV 41.
Jacob spent around two months in the jail on charges he violated his probation.
He said conditions at the center were bad from day one, the TV report stated.
“I watched a guy come in, he was drunk, he was in handcuffs and they still put him in the chair and even after they put them in this black chair they had him strapped down to, they beat the crap out of him,” he told KSHB reporters.
Special Agent in Charge Darrin E. Jones of the FBI Kansas City Division said: “Correctional officers are entrusted with the power and needed authority to protect our community, but they do not have the right to abuse that authority. The FBI will continue to work aggressively to pursue any and all allegations of civil rights violations.”
According to the indictment, Hewitt and Pearce served as acting sergeants at the detention facility.
Dooley and Pulos served as members of the Disturbance Control Team, which is responsible for intervening in inmate altercations and dealing with threats posed by inmates.
The indictment charges in counts one and two that on July 4, 2015, Hewitt, Pearce, Dooley and Pulos conspired and assaulted “J.R.,” an inmate awaiting resolution of allegations that he violated probation, in retaliation for a prior altercation that J.R. had with another corrections officer.
According to the indictment, the defendants, defying the orders of a superior officer, forcibly removed J.R. from his cell in the Medical Housing Unit and brought him to another holding cell down the hall in order to assault on him.
There, all four defendants struck punched and otherwise assaulted J.R., who was handcuffed, shackled, confined to a cell, suffering from disorientation and confusion, and not posing a threat to anyone.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants ensured their actions would go undetected by having one of them serve as a lookout, and by sending other nearby corrections officers to another part of the detention center so those corrections officers would not witness the assault.
In addition to the conspiracy and the assault in the holding cell, Count Three charges Hewitt and Pearce with a separate assault on J.R., when they allegedly struck and punched J.R. while J.R. was restrained and not posing a physical threat to anyone.
Related to that assault, count four charges Hewitt with falsifying his departmental report to impede an investigation.
The indictment alleges that Hewitt falsely wrote that J.R. bit his right hand, when in fact, Hewitt knew that he injured his hand by striking and punching J.R. about the head and face while J.R. was restrained and not posing a physical threat to anyone.
The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.