Originally published on November 1, 2014, at NationofChange.org
A former Missouri correctional officer pleaded guilty in federal court this week to violating the civil rights of an arrestee by assaulting him during a routine strip-search under color of law. Clay County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Bottorff was caught on surveillance camera repeatedly punching the naked prisoner with a mace canister and threatening to electrocute his genitals. Deputy Bottorff was placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation of the incident and fired a month later.
On December 22, 2008, a man identified in court documents as J.C. had been arrested on a traffic warrant and transported to the Clay County Detention Center in Liberty, Missouri. While being processed by deputies, J.C. admitted to concealing illegal drugs inside his body cavities. The deputies escorted J.C. to a separate room and ordered him to undress.
Demanding J.C. to remove the illicit narcotics, Deputy Bottorff sprayed mace into the inmate’s eyes. Without provocation, Bottorff repeatedly punched J.C. in the face, back, and buttocks with the mace canister still in Bottorff’s fist. According to state records, the weight of the mace canister increased the impact of each punch to the defenseless prisoner.
After being punched at least a dozen times, J.C. eventually produced a small baggie of contraband. He also confessed to concealing more drugs inside his rectum. As Bottorff aimed his stun gun at the inmate’s genitals, J.C. begged, “Don’t tase me! Please, don’t kill me!”