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U.S. Attorney: Ex-correctional officers abused inmates, falsified documents

Two former metro Atlanta corrections officers admitted last week to abusing inmates, leading one of the prisoners to defecate on herself, and falsifying documents, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Monday. 

Dwight Hamilton, 53, and Gregory McLeod, 44, both of Atlanta, pleaded guilty to abuse Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said. McLeod also admitted to falsifying documents regarding his abuse of an inmate. 

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“Working in a correctional facility is stressful and often dangerous work,” Pak said in a statement. “However, McLeod made an unnecessary and unconstitutional assault on an inmate, and then filed a false report to cover it up. An abuse of the power by any law enforcement officer is unacceptable.”

McLeod, a former lieutenant at the Atlanta penitentiary, punched an inmate during a strip search in front of three other officers, Pak said. The assault occurred March 13, 2016, according to the indictment. 

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“McLeod admitted that after the inmate complained that the strip search was taking too long, he punched the inmate in the face without justification,” Pak said. 

After the assault, McLeod falsified documents and wrote a separate memorandum stating the inmate swung a closed fist at him and attempted to assault the other officers before he was restrained. 

“No correctional officer is above the law,” stated James F. Boyersmith, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) Miami Field Office. “The DOJ OIG takes allegations of civil rights violations and false statements very seriously. We appreciate the diligent efforts of our fellow law enforcement partners that assisted us in investigating this matter.”

McLeod will be sentenced Feb. 20. 

MORE: Georgia prison guards charged with assaulting inmates

Hamilton pleaded guilty to similar charges after he admitted to using a Taser on a female inmate to the point where she defecated on herself, Pak said. Hamilton worked as a sergeant at the DeKalb County jail during the assault. 

On Nov. 1, 2011, the abused inmate asked to speak to a supervisor because her family visitation had been unexpectedly canceled. Pak said rather than explain what happened, Hamilton used his Taser on the woman, who has a permanent burn to her breast.

Hamilton will be sentenced Feb. 8. 

Leonard Dryer, Hamilton’s former supervisor, pleaded guilty to obstructing the federal investigation after it was discovered he made false statements to the FBI. 

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