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Florida Guard Gets 21 Months for Attacking Prisoner, Planting Weapon

by Monte McCoin

On December 14, 2017, former Floridaprison Sgt. Willie L. Walker was sentenced to almost two years in federal prison for attacking a prisoner and then planting a weapon to justify the beating.

In March 2015, prisoner William Hernandez was summoned to an office after a search of his housing unit at the Gulf Correctional Institution. As Hernandez entered the room, Walker immediately and without cause blasted him with pepper spray, began to punch and kick him, and hit him in the head with the O.C. spray can. Hernandez fell to the floor but Walker continued to strike and kick him. Then, in an attempt to claim he had acted in self-defense, Walker planted a shank at the scene and falsified reports about the incident.

The attack left Hernandez with severe injuries, including a fractured nose and a head wound that required several staples. Walker was found guilty of the assault on September 30, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle sentenced Walker to 21 months plus a year of supervised release and forfeiture of all retirement benefits accrued while he was employed as a prison guard. Prosecutors had recommended 24 months in prison followed by two years of probation because Walker refused to cooperate. U.S. Attorney Christopher Casanova wrote that Walker “was given several opportunities to cooperate with the government – both before and after the trial.”

Walker’s record during his tenure at Gulf CI included a history of assaults against at least four other prisoners prior to the incident involving Hernandez. 


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