Two former Marion police officers were sentenced to a combined 30 months in federal prison Monday after pleading guilty to use of excessive force in an April 2013 incident that involved the use of a Taser on a mentally handicapped woman at least eight times.
Eric Walters received 12 months and one day, and Franklin Brown received 18 months. Both men will serve three years of probation.
United States District Court Judge Bryan Harwell ruled over the sentencing. He said cases such as this compromise the integrity of law enforcement and cause the community to lose respect for good officers.
“This puts a spotlight on the bad cops as opposed to the good ones who put their life on the line every day,” Harwell said during Brown’s sentencing. “Unnecessarily Tasing someone is wrong, just wrong. … There’s no legitimate law enforcement conduct behind that.”
Walters and Franklin each pleaded guilty last October to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for using unreasonable force, according to a release by the United States Department of Justice. The release says Walters and Brown were charged for their role in repeatedly using a Taser on a victim when she posed no threat to either officer.
According to case documents, during an arrest attempt, Walters used the Taser, which caused the victim to fall to the ground and injure her head. Once on the ground, Walters continued to use the Taser on her multiple times.
Documents state that Brown arrived at the scene a short time later and used the Taser on the victim even though restrained in handcuffs, sitting on the curb and surrounded by other officers.
Walters and Brown admitted in court there was no legitimate law enforcement purpose for repeatedly using the Taser on the victim. According to the release, they said she posed no threat to themselves or other officers on the scene.
The maximum penalties for their charges are up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Stay with the Morning News as we continue to develop the story.