Monday, May 4, 2009

More Fulton County Jailers Arrested on Obstruction of Justice Charges

DERONTAY ANTON LANGFORD, 34, of Fairburn, Georgia, a Fulton County Sheriff’s Detention Officer, and MITNEE MARKETTE JONES, 46, of Atlanta, Georgia, a Fulton County Deputy Sheriff, both of whom work as officers at the Fulton County Jail, were arrested today by FBI agents following their indictment by a federal grand jury on felony charges of filing a false report, making false statements to federal agents, and obstruction of justice. LANGFORD and JONES are expected to make their initial appearances before United States Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “We are continuing to investigate this suspicious inmate death at the Fulton County Jail, as well as other incidents involving the alleged unreasonable use of force against inmates by jail officers. Whether or not we ultimately determine that other officers committed crimes against inmates, any officer who obstructs our efforts to find the truth should expect to be arrested and charged with serious federal felony offenses. Five officers have been charged with obstruction of justice already. Our message to Fulton County jail employees should be clear: you don't want to be next.”

Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson said, “This investigation is far from over. Any officer inside this jail who thinks they can beat an inmate or violate an inmate’s civil rights is looking at federal prosecution, and that means being in a federal prison as an inmate. The administration at this jail will continue to hold everyone to the highest professional standards, and that includes truthfulness when asked about any incident inside these walls.”

According to U. S. Attorney Nahmias, the indictment, and information in court: The indictment, unsealed and made public after the arrests today, charges that LANGFORD and JONES aided and abetted one another and former Fulton County Jail Detention Officer CURTIS JEROME BROWN, Jr., in engaging in misleading conduct by allegedly authoring and submitting incident reports that omitted material information regarding an encounter and physical contact with an inmate prior to the inmate’s in-custody death on March 18, 2008. BROWN was fired on October 22, 2008, and was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 24, 2008, for violating civil rights by using excessive force against a different inmate, filing a false report, making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice. BROWN’s charges are still pending. The indictment unsealed today also charges LANGFORD and JONES with making false statements to federal agents and obstructing justice by falsifying and concealing material information during their testimony before a federal grand jury.

According to a criminal complaint filed in connection with BROWN’s related charges, on the night of March 18 and into March 19, 2008, a jail inmate was causing a commotion in his cell when BROWN and two other staff members, now identified as LANGFORD and JONES, allegedly entered the cell and engaged in a physical altercation with the inmate. According to eyewitness accounts, the inmate was on the floor when the three staff members left the cell. After they left, the inmate was discovered unresponsive and not breathing on the cell floor and was transported to Grady Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The federal investigation of that in-custody death and other incidents at the Fulton County Jail is continuing. The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department is cooperating in the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 404-679-9000.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Brent Alan Gray and Angela M. Jordan are prosecuting the case.

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