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Ex-Ala. prison sergeant gets 30 months for assaulting inmates

Sgt. Ulysses Oliver Jr. pleaded guilty to assaulting the inmates in April 2019

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A fence stands at Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala.

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

By Howard Koplowitz

ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. — A former Alabama Department of Corrections sergeant was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to assaulting two inmates at Elmore Correctional Facility, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday.

The inmates were handcuffed and sitting quietly in an observation room on Feb. 16, 2019 when then-DOC Sgt. Ulysses Oliver Jr., 47, pulled the first victim out of the room and struck him, multiple times with his fists and feet before using his collapsible baton to hit him 19 times, according to court documents.

Oliver then pulled the second inmate out of the observation room when he kicked the second victim and used his baton to hit the inmate 10 times.

Both inmates had handcuffs behind their backs, did not resist and did not pose a threat to Oliver, prosecutors said.

Oliver pleaded guilty to assaulting the inmates in Montgomery federal court in April 2019.

The beatings were committed within earshot of other correctional officers who did not intervene in the assaults, prosecutors said.

Two other officers — Bryanna Mosley and Leon Williams — pleaded guilty in connection with the incident while a third — Willie Burks — was convicted at trial.

[RELATED: Former Ala. prison lieutenant sentenced to 9 years for failing to stop inmate beating]

“The Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, which includes malicious uses of force by correctional officers,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will hold to account officers who brutalize incarcerated persons.”

“The actions of Mr. Oliver and his co-defendants run completely counter to the responsibilities and trust given to correctional officers,” said U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Stewart for the Middle District of Alabama. “Oliver knew that the use of force in this case was unnecessary and excessive, and so did the other officers involved. While I fully support the difficult and dangerous jobs that these officers undertake each day, my office remains committed to holding those that ignore their oaths accountable.”

“Corrections officers are expected to safeguard the civil rights of prisoners,” said Special Agent in Charge Paul Brown for the FBI’s Mobile Field Office. “These officers ignored their duties and must be held to account for their actions. The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate violations of people’s civil rights.”

“The ADOC has zero tolerance for violence within its facilities, including excessive use-of-force by staff,” said Chief Law Enforcement Officer Arnaldo Mercado of the agency’s Law Enforcement Services Division. “Excessive use-of-force is not acceptable under any circumstances, and preventing these incidents is a high priority for the department. When an allegation of excessive force is made, or an incident of such nature is reported or discovered, the department conducts a thorough investigation. Employees who are found to have violated the highest standards of law enforcement, to which the ADOC is steadfastly committed, will be referred for prosecution and the LESD will support prosecution to the full extent of the law.”

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