Friday, October 29, 2010

Three Former Fulton County Jailers Sentenced for Obstructing Federal Civil Rights Investigations

Three former Fulton County Jail detention officers were sentenced today (October 28) by Senior United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester for obstructing federal civil rights investigations. CURTIS JEROME BROWN, 42, of Lithonia, Georgia, and MITNEE MARKETTE JONES, 47, of Atlanta, were sentenced to federal prison for lying to a federal grand jury, making false statements to a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and writing false incident reports with the intent to hinder a federal investigation. DERONTAY ANTON LANGFORD, 35, of Atlanta, was ordered to home confinement as part of a probation sentence for his efforts to obstruct one of the investigations.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the convictions, “Today the court sentenced three detention officers for obstructing a federal civil rights investigation of inmate abuse in the Fulton County Jail. These convictions and sentences affirm our strong commitment to pursue justice even when those who are sworn to uphold the law attempt to hide the truth.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta, said, “The actions of former Fulton County Detention Officers Brown, Jones and Langford are an erosion of the public's ability to trust the law enforcement personnel who have taken an oath to protect against such egregious, criminal activity. The FBI remains highly committed to investigate such corruption by all government officials, so that the members of the public can continue to trust in the vast majority of law enforcement officials whom respect their oath and are committed to public service. Anyone with information regarding public corruption should contact the Atlanta office of the FBI.”

Fulton County Chief Deputy Sheriff Jimmy Carter said, “We fully support investigations and prosecutions of persons connected to incidents involving brutality by employees of the Fulton County Sheriff's Office who are sworn to protect and serve fairly. We have zero tolerance for behavior that results in the mistreatment of citizens who come in contact with the Sheriff's Office. Employees are expected to be truthful in reporting and submissions of reports of their actions, investigations, and other related activities.”

BROWN, who was convicted on the charges by a jury on April 16, 2010, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to perform 120 hours of community service. JONES, who was convicted on the charges by a jury on January 21, 2010, was sentenced to one year and three months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to perform 120 hours of community service. LANGFORD entered a negotiated guilty plea to his charges on September 22, 2009, and cooperated with the federal investigation. LANGFORD was sentenced to four months of home confinement as part of three years of probation.

According to United States Attorney Yates and the information presented in court: On August 11, 2007, a Fulton County Jail inmate disrupted a count of inmates by shouting a crude comment to a female detention officer. BROWN handcuffed the inmate behind the inmate’s back and assisted moving the inmate to an administrative segregation area of the jail. While walking the inmate in a hallway that was not monitored by a video camera, BROWN stopped the inmate, admonished him, and hit the inmate. BROWN’s use of force caused the inmate to bleed from his mouth and left blood on the floor and wall. A fellow detention officer was shocked by BROWN’s behavior and immediately reported the conduct to a superior officer. Following the incident, BROWN wrote a memorandum to a supervisor that contained a false account of the incident.

The evidence in the case showed that later, in 2008, BROWN, JONES, and LANGFORD, along with and another detention officer, filed false incident reports omitting that jail staff entered the cell of an inmate and engaged in a physical altercation with the inmate a short time before the inmate was found unresponsive on the floor of his cell. According to trial testimony, BROWN, JONES, and LANGFORD entered the inmate’s cell and used force to subdue the inmate because the inmate was being loud and banging on his cell door and window. Approximately an hour after the group entered the cell, the inmate was discovered unresponsive and not breathing on the cell floor. The inmate was transported to Grady Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Court documents state that at the time of his death, the inmate was housed in the medical unit of the jail due to a mental health condition that required medication. According to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s report, the inmate’s cause of death was “probable disrhythmia associated with acute psychotic episode and agitation.”

These cases were investigated by special agents of the FBI.

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