OMEGA, Ga. -- The U.S. Justice Department has announced that a former chief of the Omega Police Department was sentenced Monday for physically abusing a man in his custody.
U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson sentenced Walter Young, 54, to 24 months in prison for violating the civil rights of a pretrial detainee while acting in his capacity as the chief of police, a news release from the department states.
According to evidence presented at trial, on March 24, 2011, the former chief assaulted the detainee, Alfonso Moreno, by repeatedly slapping and punching him in the head and face while he was fully restrained in a chair. Prosecutors say Young struck Moreno a total of eight times, breaking his nose.
The incident was reportedly captured by the jail's video surveillance system.
"There was no excuse for this use of force on a restrained individual, and excessive force by those sworn to uphold the law will not be tolerated," said Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in the release. "The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute law enforcement officers who violate the constitutional rights of others."
A federal jury convicted Young on Aug. 1, officials say.
"We trust our law enforcement officers to protect and serve the people of their community," Micahel J. Moore, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said a statement. "When we discover violations of that trust, the U.S. Attorney's office will use all of our resources to see that those officers who broke the law are made to account for their actions."
Officials say the case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Special Litigation Counsel Forrest Christian and Trial Attorney Tona Boyd of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the support of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.