Two former corrections officers at the Richwood Correctional Center were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Monroe, Louisiana, for their roles in a conspiracy to cover up the abuse of inmates by officers. The defendants — Demario Shaffer, 34, of Delhi, Louisiana, and David Parker, 28, of Tallulah, Louisiana, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsify documents with the intent to obstruct and influence the investigation of a matter within federal jurisdiction. According to the defendants’ plea agreements and admissions in court, Shaffer, Parker, and other officers sprayed a chemical agent directly in the faces and eyes of five inmates while the inmates were handcuffed, compliant, kneeling on the floor, and not posing a physical threat to anyone. Following that abuse, the officers conspired to hide their conduct by submitting false reports.
Shaffer, who was a sergeant at the time, was sentenced to serve 15 months in prison, and Parker, a nonsupervisory officer, was sentenced to serve 21 months. 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.
“Conspiring to cover up physical assault against an inmate is in blatant violation of federal law and the Department of Justice will hold violators accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to enforce the laws that prohibit this type of misconduct.”
“Abuse of prisoners is illegal and tarnishes the reputation of those correctional officers who work hard every day to perform their duties with distinction and professionalism,” U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph stated. “To maintain the fairness and integrity of the American justice system, my office will hold accountable anyone who violates the civil rights of inmates or conspires to cover up the abuse of inmates under their custody.”
Two other officers, Roderick Douglas and Christopher Loring have also pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing by U.S. District Judge Terry A. Doughty on June 5 and July 3.