Former RPSO corrections deputy convicted of malfeasance in 2019 inmate excessive force case
Sentencing date not set yet
RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - A former Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy, charged with malfeasance in office for a March 2019 excessive force complaint filed by a DC-1 inmate, has been found guilty by Judge Chris Hazel.
Judge Hazel, who took the case under advisement following a bench trial in October, released an 11-page reason for his ruling on Tuesday, Nov. 30 - a month after the trial for Jeremy Morrow concluded.
Morrow was accused of using excessive force on DC-1 inmate, Damian Francisco, during a search for an alleged shank in two jail cells. A shank was never found. Both Francisco and Morrow testified at the trial.
According to testimony from fellow corrections officers at the trial, Francisco was argumentative during the search for the shank and cursed at officers while being cuffed and removed from his cell. He was placed into the hallway against the wall. Video surveillance captured Morrow knocking Francisco to the ground while cuffed and against the wall.
“My previous attempts to keep him in compliance [...], I placed him on the wall, [...] verbal commands,” he said. “When he did not comply, I put him on the wall. It was an attempt to not do anything else.”
Morrow said, at one point, Francisco turned his head.
“As he turned that last time, I took that as an act of aggression,” he said. “I tried to prevent injury to myself.”
Morrow maintained that he didn’t “slam” Francisco to the ground and that he tried to break the fall.
“Sergeant Morrow grabbed me and threw me against the wall,” said Francisco. “I was like, ‘I’m on the wall.’”
Ultimately, Francisco received a busted lip and chipped tooth. He filed a complaint and Morrow was later arrested. Morrow called the arrest “political” in court.
In the ruling released on Tuesday, Judge Hazel explained why he felt Morrow was guilty of malfeasance.
Morrow must turn himself in to DC-1 by Sunday. A sentencing date will be set later. Malfeasance in office carries a penalty of jail time of no more than five years with or without hard labor, or a $5,000 fine, or both.
Morrow was represented by George Higgins. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Joseph Lebeau and Assistant Attorney General Marko Marjanovic.
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