Ex-Prison Guard Admits to Pepper-Spraying Eyes of Kneeling, Handcuffed Inmates at Louisiana Facility

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A third former prison guard in Louisiana has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, saying he led other guards at a privately run facility in spritzing pepper spray into the eyes of kneeling, handcuffed inmates.

Roderick Douglas, who was a captain at the time, pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of inmates at Richwood Correctional Center near Monroe, online federal court documents show.

Former Officer David Parker and former Sgt. Demario Shaffer pleaded guilty earlier to a cover-up conspiracy.

Former Lt. Christopher Loring and former Officer Quintail Credit are scheduled for trial April 15 before U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe. Both are charged with conspiracy. Credit is charged with violating the inmates’ rights by using the spray, and Loring with doing so by standing by while other guards sprayed the inmates.

Richwood Correctional Center is a 1,100-inmate, medium-security prison operated by LaSalle Corrections in the Ouachita Parish town of Richwood, near Monroe. Douglas’ signed statement, filed with his guilty plea, is the most detailed account so far of what happened there “on or about Oct. 30, 2016.”

It said the officers “rounded up five inmates whom they suspected of gang activity.” Lengthy questioning failed to get any to say he was a gang member. The officers took them to an area without security cameras and put them on their knees, facing the walls, with hands cuffed behind their backs.

With a can of pepper spray in his hand, Douglas asked one man if he was a gang member, his statement said. The inmate again said no, and Douglas “sprayed the inmate directly in the eyes.”

Douglas did the same to a second inmate, then gave the spray to another guard, according to his statement.

“Co-defendants Demario Shaffer, Quintail Credit, and David Parker each took a turn spraying the remaining inmates in the eyes, while Christopher Loring and another officer, D.R., remained in the room,” the statement said.

The injured inmates were taken to have their eyes treated, and all five defendants filed false reports about why they needed treatment. Each said a guard had used pepper spray to control an inmate who had jerked away from him, and the other four inmates were also hit by that single spray, according to Douglas’ statement.

The five ex-guards were indicted in March, about five months after inmates sued the jail, the warden and several officers.

An attorney for the inmates did not return a call Friday from The Associated Press requesting comment on the latest guilty plea.

Douglas signed the plea agreement and statement Tuesday. The papers were filed Wednesday and entered into online federal court records Friday.

The indictment charged Douglas with violating the inmates’ rights against cruel and unusual punishment by using the spray, conspiring to do so, and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the earlier indictment against Douglas after he is sentenced.

Douglas is scheduled for sentencing June 5, Parker May 15 and Shaffer on May 1.

All three face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. They have agreed to accept whatever sentence Doughty imposes.

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