NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Two former tactical officers with the Tennessee Department of Corrections Strike Force have pleaded guilty for their roles in the assault of an inmate and the ensuing cover-up at Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Officials said Javian Griffin, 38, of Nashville, pleaded guilty on Wednesday, Oct. 11 to using unlawful force on an inmate and providing false information in his official report for the incident.
Meanwhile, Sebron Hollands, 33, of Clarksville, pleaded guilty last week to providing false information in his official report regarding the same incident, the DOJ said.
“These two defendants used their power as correctional officers to engage in criminal conduct that victimized a person in state custody,” stated Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to hold accountable correctional officers who assault inmates and then try to cover up their criminal conduct.”
“We look to corrections officers to keep prisons safe and secure and to carry out their duties with the utmost integrity,” U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee said. “Instead of upholding and enforcing the oath he took, this officer used his position of authority to violate an inmate’s rights and then conceal the harm he caused. No correctional officer is above the law. This office’s National Security and Civil Rights Unit will continue to prioritize the prosecution of public employees who violate the civil rights of others.”
“Correctional officers who abuse their authority and harm or cover up harm to inmates whose safety they are charged with undermine the criminal justice system as a whole,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas S. DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “The FBI is committed to protecting the civil rights of all people and will aggressively investigate and bring to justice any officer who violates the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect.”
According to court documents, Griffin admitted to punching an inmate — identified as K.W. — in the head and breaking his jaw, even though K.W. did not resist or pose a threat justifying the officer’s use of force. In addition, both Griffin and Hollands confessed they provided false information in their official reports in order to obstruct the investigation into the incident.
As part of the plea deal, “the parties agreed to jointly recommend” that Griffin serve a four-year prison sentence, officials said. Meanwhile, Hollands faces up to 20 years in prison for his false report.
Hollands is set to be sentenced on Jan. 19, 2024, followed by Griffin on March 5, 2024. The DOJ said a federal district court judge will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors before determining any sentence.
The FBI Memphis Field Office reportedly investigated the case, which was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard for the Western District of Tennessee, as well as Trial Attorneys Andrew Manns and Matthew Tannenbaum for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.