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Texas Prison Guard Gets 24 Months in Federal Prison

In August 2009, a former Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) guard was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison in connection with a vicious assault on a handcuffed prisoner.

Eugene Morris, Jr., a TDCJ sergeant at the Ferguson Unit, was offended by prisoner Robert Tanzini’s use of a racial slur to refer to another prison guard. He entered Tanzini’s cell, handcuffed him behind his back and took him to an office. Behind closed doors, Morris angrily confronted Tanzini, knocked him to the floor and repeatedly kicked him in the head. According to Tanzini, Morris and another guard “stomped, kicked and punched” him. Afterwards, Morris filled out a Use of Force report falsely saying that he had only used a bear hug on Tanzini to force him to the ground.

Tanzini suffered severe head trauma resulting in a week of unconsciousness, brain injuries, and skull and facial bone fractures. He said one of his eyes had been “kicked out of its socket.” It took him months to relearn the use of his right arm and leg; he still has difficulty with balance and fine motor control.

Morris was fired after the incident and another guard resigned. Tanzini filed a lawsuit that was dismissed due to procedural reasons; however, federal prosecutors used details in his complaint to eventually bring criminal charges against Morris. [See: PLN, Jan. 2009, p.26].

A federal jury convicted Morris of filing a false report but acquitted him of causing serious bodily injury and influencing other guards to file false reports. On August 26, 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Atlas sentenced him to 24 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. See: United States v. Morris, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Tex.), Case No. 4:07-cr-00442.

Source: Houston Press

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