TIPTONVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A TDOC employee who served as a corrections officer at Northwest County Corrections Complex in Tiptonville pleaded guilty to beating an inmate on Thursday.
According to a release from The United States Department of Justice, Nathanial Griffin, 29, pleaded guilty to charges of using unlawful force on an inmate.
Officials said on February 1, Griffin entered the cell of an inmate in the mental health unit. The inmate spit and remained seated on a bench with his arms by his side. Another corrections officer looked into the cell's camera and said "cover the camera." Another officer used his hand to obstruct the camera's view.
According to Griffin's testimony, an officer punched the inmate 20-30 times while the camera was covered. At some point, one officer stopped punching, then looked at another officer and said "get you some." The other officer then began hitting the inmate four to five times. Several officers watched as the beating took place, but none took action to stop it.
Griffin reportedly spoke with ranking officers about creating a cover story to explain what happened to the inmate.
Griffin admitted in his guilty ple that he repeatedly punched an inmate without legal justification. He could face up to 10 years behind bars.
Griffin's sentencing is set for November 13.
“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute correctional officers who violate the public’s trust by committing crimes and attempting to cover up violations of federal criminal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “Officer Griffin abused his power in this case, and the Department of Justice held him accountable for his unlawful actions.”
"Correctional officers must abide by and adhere to the same laws they take an oath to uphold and enforce. Instead of serving and protecting the public, this officer used physical force to violate the civil rights of an individual and will now be held accountable, vividly illustrating that no one is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant.
"The FBI takes all allegations of civil rights violations seriously, and we will work tirelessly alongside our law enforcement partners to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system," said M.A. Myers, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Those who choose to ignore the oath they took to protect and serve will be investigated and brought to justice."