Former corrections officer sentenced for covering up excessive force incident

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A former Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) tactical officer will serve more than a year in prison for covering up an excessive force incident for a fellow officer, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.

According to the DOJ, Sebron Hollards, 33, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years of supervised release for writing a false report in an effort to cover up another officer’s use of excessive force against an inmate at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville.

Hollands pleaded guilty to the offense Oct. 2, 2023. His co-defendant, former tactical officer Javian Griffin, pleaded guilty on Oct. 11, 2023, to using excessive force against the inmate.

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“The defendant pledged to protect and serve but instead he abused his authority as a corrections officer to try to cover up another officer’s use of excessive force,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence sends a clear message that the Justice Department will hold accountable any official who obstructs a federal civil rights investigation.”

According to court documents, Hollands provided false information in his official report about Griffin’s use of unlawful force on an inmate. Hollands was present when Griffin, without justification, punched an inmate in the head, breaking the inmate’s jaw. The inmate did not resist or pose a threat justifying the use of force. Then, after the incident, Hollands provided false information in his official use of force report in order to obstruct the investigation of the incident.

“Our country’s commitment to protecting its citizens’ civil rights doesn’t end at the prison gates,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin G. Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “The defendant in this case violated public trust and used his position of authority to make the entire facility – and the inmates in his care – less safe. This office’s National Security and Civil Rights Unit will continue to prioritize the prosecution of public employees who violate the civil rights of others.”

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“When correctional officers abuse their authority, it not only violates our civil rights laws, it undermines the criminal justice system,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “The FBI makes it a priority to bring to justice any law enforcement officer who violates the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect.”

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