Four former guards at a Kansas City jail have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to nearly four years for beating a handcuffed inmate as a punishment.
The U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release that 30-year-old Travis Hewitt and 34-year-old Jen-I Pulos were sentenced Thursday. Terrance Dooley, 39, and Dakota Pearce, 27, were sentenced last month.
Prosecutors said the victim was detained on the Fourth of July in 2015 on a probation violation in a driving while intoxicated case. He was placed in the medical housing unit of the Jackson County Detention Center because he was experiencing severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
The victim subsequently got into a scuffle with a corrections officer when he attempted to go somewhere he wasn’t supposed to while “clearly disoriented and unaware of his whereabouts,” the release said. When the officer called for help, Hewitt and Pearce, who served as acting sergeants, responded and placed the victim in a holding cell.
Prosecutors said those two and Dooley and Pulos, who served on a team that is responsible for intervening in inmate altercations, were upset that a supervisor decided the victim wouldn’t be placed in a “restraint chair” as a punishment because he was so disoriented. Several hours later, Dooley and Pulos entered the victim’s cell, purportedly to remove a comb that had been fashioned into a “shank.” They then moved him to a holding cell that was out of the range of surveillance cameras, where the four assaulted him as a punishment, with one of the officers standing outside at times as a lookout, the release said.
Doctors found that the inmate had broken ribs, a punctured lung, and bruises on his face. He settled a lawsuit for $437,500 in a case that drew attention to problems at the jail and included an FBI investigation.
Federal jurors found Hewitt and Dooley guilty in October of participating in a conspiracy to deprive the victim of his civil rights and one count of deprivation of rights. The week before the trial, Pearce pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy, and Pulos pleaded guilty to the deprivation of rights.
“The sentences handed down in this case show that law enforcement officers who break the law, violate their oaths, and deprive inmates of their civil rights will be held accountable for their actions” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division in the news release.