In a nine-count indictment unsealed today, two Mississippi correctional officers were charged with beating an inmate and a third was charged with helping to cover it up.
The indictment charged Lawardrick Marsher, 28, and Robert Sturdivant, 47, officers at Mississippi State Penitentiary, in Parchman, Mississippi, with a beating that included kicking, punching and throwing the victim to the ground. Marsher and Sturdivant were charged with violating the right of K.H., a convicted prisoner, to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Sturdivant was also charged with failing to intervene while Marsher was punching and beating K.H. The indictment alleges that their actions involved the use of a dangerous weapon and resulted in bodily injury to the victim.
A third officer, Deonte Pate, 23, was charged along with Marsher and Sturdivant for conspiring to cover up the beating. The indictment alleges that all three officers submitted false reports and that all three lied to the FBI.
If convicted, Marsher and Sturdivant face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the excessive force charges. Each of the three officers faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy and false statement charges, and up to 20 years in prison on the false report charges.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division, with the cooperation of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Coleman of the Northern District of Mississippi and Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.