Washington, D.C.–The Justice Department said Tuesday that a former Richwood Correctional Center officer pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court for his role in a conspiracy to cover up the physical assault of five inmates by himself and other correctional officers in violation of the Constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Demario Shaffer, 33, of Delhi, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsify documents with the intent to obstruct and influence a matter within federal jurisdiction. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana David Joseph said.
“A correctional officer who uses excessive force against an inmate and then falsifies official reports violates the Constitution and its provision to protect all incarcerated offenders from cruel and unusual punishment,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Justice Department will continue to prosecute aggressively any similarly disgraceful and unlawful misconduct to ensure the integrity of our civil rights laws.”
“Correctional officers are not allowed to abuse prisoners,” said United States Attorney David Joseph. “They must follow the law and not use their position of authority to assault those under their supervision.”
According to his guilty plea, Shaffer worked as a Sergeant at the Richwood Correctional Center in Monroe, Louisiana, where on Oct. 30, 2016, he and other officers inflicted 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. Shaffer admitted that he conspired with the other officers 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. Shaffer is scheduled to be sentenced on May 1, 2019, by U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana, who accepted the plea.