Former Georgia Supervisory Correctional Officer Pleads Responsible to Civil Rights Offenses for Assaulting Inmates | OPA

A former Valdosta State Prison (VSP) inspector in Valdosta, Georgia pleaded guilty today to violating the civil rights of two inmates in two separate incidents.

According to court documents and permits obtained during the September 24, 2018 hearing, Patrick Sharpe, 30, while serving as a correctional officer at VSP, attacked a handcuffed inmate in retaliation for a previous interaction between the inmate and a policewoman. As Sharpe escorted the inmate across the prison compound, he wrapped a pair of handcuffs around his fist and hit the inmate three times – twice on the inmate’s face and once on the back of the head. As a result of the attack, the inmate briefly passed out and suffered cuts on his face and head. The inmate was reluctant and compliant at the time of the attack.

In the second incident, on December 29, 2018, while Sharpe was on duty as an inspector at VSP, ordered his NCOs to attack a handcuffed inmate in retaliation for a previous argument between that inmate and another female officer. In particular, Sharpe along with several other correctional officers – including officers Jamal Scott and Brian Ford, both of whom had previously pleaded guilty to crimes related to this incident – escorted the handcuffed inmate to an outside area on the prison grounds for the purpose of the attack the inmate. Scott and Ford, following an instruction from Sharpe, brought the inmate to the ground and hit him several times in the body. The inmate was handcuffed and yielding at the time of the attack.

“The defendants, as correctional officers, have committed two retaliatory, harmful and unjustified attacks,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Department of Civil Rights at the Justice Department. “The Justice Department is committed to protecting the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously persecutes those who betray their oath of office and violently abuse the power entrusted to them as law officials.”

“Our office is committed to protecting the civil rights of all people and we will prosecute anyone who breaks the law,” said acting US attorney Peter Leary of the Middle District of Georgia. “Law enforcement and correctional officers are also held at the highest level as they are entrusted with a high level of authority over the freedom of those they have sworn to protect.”

“Prison officers face difficult conditions when trying to protect prisons for incarcerated offenders and employees, but it is never acceptable for them to violate their oath by violently abusing their power,” said Chris Hacker, the special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office. “The FBI places great emphasis on civil rights violations to protect inmates from such ill-treatment and to protect the hard-working officials who take their oaths every day.”

Sharpe faces a maximum legal sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 250,000 per count.

This case was investigated by the FBI and followed by trial lawyers Katherine G. DeVar and Nicole Raspa of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, with assistance from Criminal Chief Michael Solis of the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

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