Two former Missouri corrections officers have been found guilty of beating an inmate while he was restrained in 2015, and two other officers have pleaded guilty to aiding in the assault, according to a Department of Justice press release. The convicted defendants, Travis Hewitt and Terrance Dooley Jr., were angered that an inmate experiencing severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal had not been placed in a “restraint chair” after a “brief physical struggle” with officers. Dooley, along with officer Jen-I Pulos, returned to the inmate’s cell several hours after the altercation purportedly to confiscate a comb that had been fashioned into a “shank.” The officers then moved the inmate, identified as “J.R.” in court documents, to a holding cell out of sight of surveillance cameras. Once in the cell and handcuffed, the three officers and a fourth officer, Dakota Pearce, physically assaulted J.R.
Hours after the assault, medical professionals decided to transfer J.R. to a medical center “out of a belief that his alcohol withdrawal symptoms had worsened,” according to the release. Medical staff in the emergency room, then discovered J.R. had severe injuries unrelated to the withdrawal, including broken ribs, a punctured lung, facial bruising, and wrist injuries. “This conduct betrays their oath as law enforcement officers and violates the Constitution. The Department of Justice will prosecute those who violate the rights of others,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. Pulos and Pearce are each subject to up to 10 years in prison. Hewitt and Dooley could serve up to 20 years.