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Three correctional officers sentenced for violating inmate’s civil rights

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Three correctional officers sentenced for violating inmate's civil rights
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The Department of Justice announced that three former correctional officers were sentenced to two to three years for violating the civil rights of an inmate during a brutal assault.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced three former Hamilton Correctional Institution Annex officers for violating the civil rights of an inmate.

Coty Michael Wiltgen was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, followed by two years of supervised release; Ethan Burkett was sentenced to 31 months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release; and William Story Shackelford was sentenced to 25 months in federal prison, followed by one year of supervised release.

In June and July of 2021, the three men plead guilty to violating the civil rights of an inmate.

Wiltgen, Burkett, and Shackelford were ordered to surrender to their facility of designation no later than April 28, 2022.

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Brutal Assault of Inmate

According to court documents, on March 3, 2020, Wiltgen, Burkett, and Shackelford, on-duty correctional officers at the Hamilton Correctional Institution Annex (HCI) in Jasper, Florida, struck an inmate multiple times while the inmate was handcuffed and lying on the ground.

The victim, a Black man, was chasing after another inmate when he pushed Burkett out of his path. After pushing Burkett and walking away, the victim was sprayed with pepper spray by Wiltgen. The victim laid down on the floor, showed no signs of resistance, and was handcuffed according to court documents.

Wiltgen and Shackelford then escorted the cooperative and compliant victim outside of the facility, and out of camera view, where the brutal assault began.

Wiltgen kicked the victim in the face approximately 15 times while he was face down on the ground.

Wiltgen was also observed calling the victim “n*gger” as well as spitting on him.

Correctional officers assault lasted several minutes

Shackelford held the victim on the ground with his knee in the victim’s back to keep him from moving and struck the victim in the side.

When Burkett arrived outside, he went up to the victim and hit him twice with an open hand to the upper back and punched the victim.

The victim was screaming during the assault and was knocked unconscious by Wiltgen kicking him. Court documents say the brutal assault lasted approximately one to two minutes.

The case was investigated by the Florida Department of Corrections, Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ashley Washington. 

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