Nashville, Tennessee - Former supervisory corrections officer Mark Bryant, 42, was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison for repeatedly tasing a restrained pretrial detainee inside the Cheatham County Jail in Tennessee. In January 2020, a jury in the Middle District of Tennessee convicted Bryant of two counts of violating Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 242, for using excessive force while acting under color of law.
“The defendant abused his power as a supervisory corrections officer by assaulting a restrained person in his custody. Officers who willfully use excessive force both violate the Constitution and erode the public trust in law enforcement,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting these abuses of power and upholding the Constitution and laws that protect us all.”
“The extraordinary abuse of power displayed by Bryant was both disturbing and disappointing to the many fine men and women in law enforcement who strive every day to carry out their duties with honor and professionalism,” said U.S. Attorney Donald Q. Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee. “We can never be complacent in our responsibility to protect every citizen from such abuse. Justice has been served and I commend our trial team and our law enforcement partners for their outstanding work in the investigation, preparation and prosecution of this case.”
“When a law enforcement officer violates the civil rights of another, he brings shame on the badge," said Douglas Korneski, Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Field Office of the FBI. "The sentencing of former Corrections Officer Mark Bryant sends a strong message that law enforcement officers or any other government employees who abuse their authority and use unlawful force will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted. Our citizens have a fundamental and constitutional right to ethical treatment by employees of federal, state, and local government."
Evidence presented at trial established that, on Nov. 5, 2016, Bryant repeatedly tased an 18-year-old detainee who was restrained and surrounded by officers inside the jail. At approximately 8:00 p.m. that night, Bryant tased the detainee four times for a total of 50 seconds while the detainee was strapped into a restraint chair. Bryant returned two hours later and tased the detainee again, this time while the detainee was handcuffed, shackled, and compliant. As a result of Bryant’s unjustified uses of force, the detainee suffered bodily injury, including burns that an officer on the scene described as making the detainee’s skin look like “raw hamburger meat.” As the senior officer at the scene, Bryant then directed his colleagues not to submit reports regarding his uses of force on the detainee.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, and the case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Beth Myers of the Middle District of Tennessee’s Nashville Office and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer.