New Orleans, Louisiana - A former correctional officer with the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office (RPSO), Detention Center 1, in Alexandria, Louisiana, was sentenced Monday in federal court for violating the civil rights of three inmates in his custody.

Cody Richardson, 31, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Dee Drell to 70 months in federal prison for each count, to run concurrently, followed by two years of supervised release. Richardson previously pleaded guilty on May 28, 2020, to three felony counts of using excessive force against pretrial detainees housed at the RPSO facility.

According to court documents and statements made during the hearing, Richardson, while on duty as a correctional officer, tased three different detainees who were restrained and/or not resisting. Specifically, on Jan. 28, 2018, Richardson tased detainee K.F. while K.F. had his hands up, causing him to fall to the ground, then continued to tase K.F. three more times despite the fact that he was not resisting. On Feb. 24, 2018, Richardson drive-stunned detainee S.M. 15-20 times while S.M. was shackled to a bench by his ankles, then, after other officers secured S.M.’s wrists in handcuffs, continued tasing him and kicked him once in the abdomen. Finally, on March 19, 2018, Richardson deployed a taser into detainee J.A.’s back, causing him to fall to the ground, then sat on top of a table in the cellblock and continued to activate the taser four more times while J.A. thrashed on the floor, screaming in pain. 

“These kinds of civil rights violations by correctional officers will not be tolerated,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “By perpetrating these blatant and callous assaults on inmates, Richardson abused the authority granted to him as an officer of the law, undermined public trust in law enforcement, and caused harm to individuals whom he had a responsibility to protect. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute officers who violate the civil rights of vulnerable inmates in their care, and ensure that such officers are held accountable.”

“Citizens who are detained by law enforcement officers have a right to be treated with fairness and respect,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook of the Western District of Louisiana. “Those in law enforcement who choose to violate the civil rights of those in their custody and control must suffer the consequences of their actions.”

This case was investigated by the FBI. Trial Attorney Katherine DeVar of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Mudrick of the Western District of Louisiana prosecuted the case.