Cover-up of Angola Prisoner’s Beating Results in Guilty Pleas, $8,000 Settlement
Three Louisiana prison officials have pleaded guilty to federal charges related to their role in the beating of a prisoner at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola.
The incident occurred on January 24, 2010, when prisoner Roy H. McLaughlin, Jr. escaped from his assigned location and was apprehended shortly afterwards, still on the prison’s property. When Major Kevin L. Groom, Sr., 45, arrived at the scene, McLaughlin was handcuffed behind his back and in the custody of two other guards in the back of a truck.
One of three high-ranking officials present grabbed McLaughlin’s head and slammed it against the truck; in a subsequent lawsuit, McLaughlin claimed the official who slammed his head was Warden Burl Cain. The two guards in the back of the truck also assaulted McLaughlin. Groom was ordered into the truck to escort McLaughlin to the medical unit; during the trip, the two other guards struck and kicked McLaughlin while he lay on his stomach handcuffed.
According to McLaughlin, he suffered contusions and a broken toe; he had tried to escape from Angola twice before the January 2010 incident.
Of the three guards in the truck, Groom had the highest rank. As part of his plea agreement, he admitted that he did nothing to stop the assault. He also conceded that during an investigation into the incident he wrote and submitted a false report and provided false information to the FBI.
Groom entered his guilty plea in December 2012 to charges of falsification of records in a federal investigation and making a false statement to the FBI.
“Law enforcement officers often act as our heroes in protecting us every day; so, when some violate their duties to the public, it is a sad day,” said U.S. Attorney Donald J. Cazayoux, Jr. “They must and will be held accountable, and this plea is a step forward in securing justice in this case.”
In May 2013, another former Angola officer, Lt. Col. Jason Giroir, 35, pleaded guilty to federal charges of falsifying documents and lying to the FBI. He was accused of participating in the attempted cover-up but had not assaulted McLaughlin.
Most recently, on June 24, 2014, Captain Mark Sharp, 33, pleaded guilty to civil rights violations in connection with the incident. Sharp admitted that he repeatedly hit McLaughlin with a baton during the drive to the medical unit.
Neither Groom, Giroir or Sharp have been sentenced as this issue of PLN goes to press. McLaughlin settled his lawsuit for $8,000. See: McLaughlin v. Cain, U.S.D.C. (M.D. La.), Case No. 3:10-cv-00583-JTT-JDK.
Sources: LexisNexis, http://uscsog.com, www.theadvocate.com, www.justice.gov
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Related legal case
McLaughlin v. Cain
|U.S.D.C. (M.D. La.), Case No. 3:10-cv-00583-JTTJDK