Ascension officers terminated for alleged abuse and cover up

On March 30, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections recommended termination for eight Elayn Hunt Correctional Center correctional officers for the use of excessive force on an offender, and the subsequent cover up of the alleged January 9, 2017 incident.

However, six of the officers resigned in lieu of termination. The Department’s extensive investigation determined some of the officers lied about the incident, and attempted to cover it up.

“We will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James M. Le Blanc said. “This is a sad day in our Department’s history. These individuals do not represent the 99 percent of our dedicated employees who are committed to public safety and integrity.”

On January 9, 2017, correctional officers were attempting to remove offenders John Harold and Lonnie Bryant from a cell. When the offenders failed to comply, shift and Tactical Team leader Kevin Durbin obtained authorization from the compound manager to perform a cell extraction. Durbin deployed the Tactical Team and ordered the cell extraction. In violation of Department policy, he left before the extraction was completed.

During the cell extraction, apparently several of the Tactical Team members lost their tempers and allegedly used excessive force by repeatedly striking offender Harold. Following the incident, the officers failed to fully report the incident, and some even lied about what actually happened. Officers Andre Riley, Charles Philson, and Adrian Almodovar admitted to using excessive force, and they also implicated officers Michael Collins, Eric Norwood, and Troy Rogers in the alleged use of excessive force. Collins, Norwood, and Rogers denied participation.

Following the extraction, Jarod Verret, the transport vehicle driver, transported offender Harold, along with several officers, to the Adult Treatment Unit (infirmary) at Hunt. The alleged excessive force continued there, in Verret’s presence. Verret denied witnessing any alleged abuse.

Offenders Harold and Bryant received penalties for violating several disciplinary rules including defiance and aggravated disobedience. Both lost canteen privileges for 12 weeks, and were placed in isolation for 10 days.

In addition to serving time for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and armed robbery, Harold also served time for battery of a correctional officer and simple criminal damage to property for an incident that occurred at Winn Correctional Center on October 6, 2009, and for resisting a police officer on June 6, 2014.

Officers Terminated effective March 30, 2017:

Adrian Almodovar, Gonzales, Louisiana. Almodovar violated Rule 1-General Misconduct, Rule 3-Abuse of Offenders, Corporal Punishment or Use of Unnecessary or Excessive Force, Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements, and Rule 13-Malfeasance – Aggravated.

Eric Norwood, St. Gabriel, Louisiana. Norwood violated Rule 3-Abuse of Offenders, Corporal Punishment or Use of Unnecessary or Excessive Force and Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements

Officers recommended for termination, but resigned in lieu of termination effective March 30, 2017:

Michael Collins, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Collins was charged with violating Rule 3-Abuse of Offenders, Corporal Punishment or Use of Unnecessary or Excessive Force and Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements.

Kevin Durbin, Geismar, Louisiana. Durbin was charged with violating Rule 7-Failure to Follow Orders - Aggravated, Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements and Rule 13-Malfeasance – Aggravated.

Charles Philson, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Philson was charged with violating Rule 3-Abuse of Offenders, Corporal Punishment or Use of Unnecessary or Excessive Force, Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements and Rule 13- Malfeasance – Aggravated.

Andre Riley, Plaquemine, Louisiana. Riley was charged with violating Rule 3-Abuse of Offenders, Corporal Punishment or Use of Unnecessary or Excessive Force, Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements and Rule 13-Malfeasance – Aggravated

Officers recommended for termination, but resigned in lieu of termination effective April 1, 2017:

Troy Rogers, Harvey, Louisiana. Rogers was charged with violating Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements and Rule 13-Malfeasance – Aggravated

Jarod Verret, Gretna, Louisiana. Verret was charged with violating Rule 10-Falsifying Documents or Making False Statements and Rule 13-Malfeasance – Aggravated (2 counts). 

Contributed Report