On March 30, 2017, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections fired eight guards amid a federal investigation into the January 9, 2017 beating of 34-year-old prisoner John Harold at the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center.
An internal investigation conducted by prison officials determined that Lt. Andre Riley, Master Sgt. Adrian Almodovar, Capt. Charles Philson, Lt. Troy Rogers, Lt. Eric Norwood and Lt. Michael Collins punched and kicked Harold during and after a cell extraction, then continued the beating both in a transport van and the infirmary. Van driver Jarod Verret was terminated for allegedly witnessing the beating and failing to intervene, while Maj. Kevin Durbin was fired for failing to oversee the cell extraction in violation of departmental policy.
Harold was restrained during the assault, and one of the guards dropped a wheelchair on him after he was thrown from an infirmary bed to the floor. He had refused to obey orders, spit on one of the guards and used profanity.
“We will not tolerate this type of behavior,” James M. LeBlanc, the state’s Corrections Secretary, said in a statement. “This is a sad day in our department’s history. These individuals do not represent the 99 percent of our dedicated employees who are committed to public safety and integrity.”
Jeff Sallet, who heads the FBI’s New Orleans field office, said his agency had taken over a criminal investigation into the beating. According to The Advocate, St. Gabriel Police Chief Kevin Ambeau had indicated “the complexity of the case and the number of guards involved became too much for his department to handle.”
When The Advocate spoke with Harold’s sister, Tina, she confirmed that the FBI investigation was centered around the five-hour beating her brother endured. She said her brother had been left in severe pain, and according to one news report he suffered a broken toe.
Sources: www.theadvocate.com, www.nola.com
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