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Florida Guard Convicted of Assaulting Prisoner

On January 16, 2009, a federal jury in Jacksonville, Florida found a former state prison guard guilty of a federal felony civil rights violation for assaulting a prisoner in August 2005.

The prisoner, who was not named, allegedly feigned illness by lying on the floor of his cell at Florida State Prison in Raiford. Guard Paul G. Tillis responded by filling a bottle with near-boiling water and pouring it on the prisoner’s chest. Tillis then denied medical treatment to the prisoner, who suffered second-degree burns as a result of the assault.

“It is important that corrections officers realize they may not use their positions of authority to inflict physical harm on inmates as punishment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King. “While the vast majority of law enforcement officers carry out their difficult duties in a lawful and professional manner, the Department of Justice will continue to vigor-ously prosecute those who cross the line and commit this type of unlawful act.”

In fiscal year 2008, the Criminal Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division filed the largest-ever number of federal criminal civil rights cases in a single year, and had the second-highest number of official misconduct prosecutions.

Tillis faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He was ordered taken into custody pending his sentencing hearing, which is set for July 6, 2009.

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Justice press release,

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