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Former Federal Prison Lieutenant Sentenced for Using Excessive Force and Obstructing Investigation

Gregory McLeod, 44, of East Point, Georgia, and a former correctional officer and supervisor at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta (USP Atlanta), was sentenced today in federal court to one year and eight months in prison, followed by three years supervised release, for using excessive force against an inmate in 2016, and for writing two false reports about the incident in an effort to cover up his crime.

According to information presented in court, McLeod, who achieved the rank of lieutenant, and worked as a supervisor at the prison, strip searched an inmate in his office in front of three other correctional officers. After the inmate complained that the strip search was taking too long, McLeod repeatedly punched the inmate in his face, injuring him.

Following the assault, McLeod wrote an incident report and a separate memorandum about the encounter in which he falsely claimed that the inmate swung a closed fist at McLeod and attempted to assault other officers before the officers could apply hand and leg restraints.

“Correctional officers have an important duty to protect inmates from violence or any act of unreasonable force,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “McLeod’s violent actions, and attempt to obstruct justice, blatantly violated the inmate’s civil rights. This Justice Department will not tolerate any abuse of power by a law enforcement officer and will continue to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

“McLeod broke the law and repeatedly lied about his conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The men and women who work in prisons and jails have very stressful jobs, but they must adhere to the laws that each has sworn to uphold. At the same time, inmates and detainees in our nation’s prisons and jails have the right to be free from the use of excessive force.”

“We certainly understand that detention officers have a difficult job maintaining order and protecting inmates in our nation’s prisons,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “But inherent in that job is a power that cannot be abused. It is unfortunate that the actions of this one defendant harm the reputation of the vast majority of officers who respect that power.”

“Violence against inmates and false reporting have no place in the federal prison system,” stated Robert A. Bourbon, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Miami Field Division. “The DOJ OIG is committed to ensuring that there are serious consequences for any DOJ employee who intentionally violates the rights of inmates and lies about it.”

At his guilty plea on Nov. 22, 2017, McLeod admitted that he used excessive force and that he intentionally violated the inmate’s constitutional rights. McLeod also admitted that he intentionally impeded and obstructed the investigation of the incident by writing the two false reports.

McLeod was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven C. Jones to one year and eight months in prison, followed by three years supervised release.

This case was investigated by the Atlanta Division of the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Alan Gray, and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division.