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Former ADOC lieutenant pleads guilty to civil rights, obstruction offenses

The lieutenant pleaded guilty to using excessive force on an inmate and lying afterward in an official report to cover up his abuse.

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A former Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) lieutenant pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using excessive force on an inmate and lying afterwards in an official report to cover up his abuse.

According to the plea agreement, former William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility Lieutenant and Shift Commander Mohammad Shahid Jenkins, who had more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement, used excessive force on inmate V.R. Specifically, on Feb. 16, 2022, Jenkins willfully deprived inmate V.R. of his right to be free from excessive force by kicking him, hitting him, spraying him with chemical spray, striking him with a can of chemical spray and striking him with a shoe, while V.R. was restrained inside of a holding cell and not posing a threat. Jenkins admitted that, over the course of approximately five minutes and outside the presence of other officers and inmates, Jenkins repeatedly re-entered the holding cell that V.R. was in and re-assaulted him numerous times. Jenkins used a dangerous weapon — chemical spray and the can of chemical spray — on V.R. and his attacks on V.R. caused V.R. to suffer bodily injury. Following his assault on V.R., Jenkins authored a false incident report. In it, he gave a false account of where, in Donaldson, he transported V.R. to and he omitted entirely his use of force on V.R. from his report. As part of the factual basis, Jenkins further admitted that he lied to investigators by denying using any force on V.R.

Further, as part of the factual basis, Jenkins admitted to using force on another inmate on a different occasion at Donaldson. Specifically, on Nov. 29, 2021, Jenkins willfully deprived inmate D.H. of his right to be free from excessive force by repeatedly spraying D.H. with chemical spray while D.H. was handcuffed behind his back and compliant, by hitting D.H. in the head with the can of chemical spray and by delivering an open-hand strike to D.H.’s head while D.H. was suffering from the effects of chemical spray.

“Senior law enforcement officers set the tone for junior officers whom they supervise,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This defendant abused his position of power to carry out a violent assault on a restrained inmate, in an isolated location of the prison. The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable law enforcement officers who violate the civil rights of any American, including those who are incarcerated in our jails and prisons.”

“There is zero tolerance for corrections officers who commit these egregious crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama. “My office will continue to aggressively prosecute and bring to justice those who abuse their authority and prey on vulnerable people who they are sworn to protect and keep safe.”

“The civil rights of all must be protected, including those who are in the trusted custody of law enforcement officials,” said Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples of the FBI Birmingham Field Office. “To willfully deprive any individual without due process or subject the same to cruel and unusual punishment can’t be tolerated or perceived to be so commonplace it’s considered normal inside of our institutions. The FBI will remain committed to holding those who swore an oath to protect and serve, but instead willfully abused their privileges and abandon their responsibilities as law enforcement officers, accountable.”   

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19. Jenkins faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on the excessive force charge related to his assault of V.R. and 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge. He also faces up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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The FBI Birmingham Field Office investigated the case with the assistance of ADOC’s Law Enforcement Services Division. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin for the Northern District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Anna Gotfryd of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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