Macon State Prison officer pleads guilty to inmate assault conspiracy

lfabian@macon.comOctober 25, 2012 

A former sergeant pleaded guilty to conspiring with other prison officers in the beating of an inmate at the Macon State Prison in Oglethorpe.

Emmett McKenzie, 31, of Montezuma, faces up to five years in prison after admitting to the conspiracy to violate the civil rights of an inmate in 2010, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia.

As part of Wednesday’s plea, McKenzie admitted he knew the officers would assault the man, who was escorted into the gym following an unspecified incident.

McKenzie said he approached the handcuffed inmate, who was surrounded by officers, and told him, “Don’t mess with my officers,” before a Correctional Emergency Response Team member punched the man and threw him to the ground, according to the release.

McKenzie then left the gym knowing the officers would continue beating the inmate.

The release states that McKenzie informed supervisors of the beating but none of them stopped the assault.

McKenzie, who most recently served as a lieutenant at Dooly State Prison in Unadilla, is the third officer to plead guilty in the course of the ongoing federal investigation.

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute correctional officers who violate the constitutional rights of inmates,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore said guards must do their duties in a way that respects their positions of authority.

“Abuses of authority, under any circumstances, have no place in our prison system and will not be tolerated by my office,” Moore said.

The FBI investigated the case, which is being prosecuted by special counsel from the civil rights division of the Department of Justice.

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