Johnnie Drewery, 27, a former Sergeant with the Grady County Jail, in Chickasha, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty today to using unreasonable force against an inmate, thereby violating the inmate’s constitutional civil rights.
According to court documents and admissions Drewery made during the plea hearing, Drewery, on July 11, 2020, was involved with changing an inmate, D.H., into a suicide smock and then moving D.H. into a first floor holding cell. Drewery put D.H. into the holding cell and, as the cell door was closing, D.H. spit on Drewery. Drewery then screamed for the cell door to be reopened. When the cell door was unlocked, Drewery rushed into the cell and, in retaliation for being spit on, began to use his hands and knee to strike D.H, which resulted in D.H. suffering a fractured rib as a result of this assault.
“The defendant is being held accountable for using excessive force against a man inside of a jail cell who was not posing a threat at the time he was assaulted,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to investigate and prosecute law enforcement officials who deprive individuals of their Constitutional rights by using excessive force against them.”
“Law enforcement and corrections officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe,” said U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma. “But when an officer betrays the badge and the public’s trust, as the defendant did here, they dishonor their profession and endanger the safety of their fellow officers. I commend the Oklahoma City FBI Field Office and the entire prosecution team for their diligent work on this case.”
“The FBI is the primary federal agency tasked with investigating violations of federal civil rights,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office. “Along with our partners at the Department of Justice, we work to protect the civil rights of all to ensure that individuals are treated fairly when they are in the custody of law enforcement. We take this responsibility seriously and will hold law enforcement officers accountable when they abuse their authority by using excessive force.”
The crime Drewery pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing will be set by the court in approximately 90 days.
The case was investigated by the Oklahoma City FBI Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julia E. Barry of the Western District of Oklahoma and Trial Attorney Laura Gilson of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.