A former sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal charge stemming from the 2008 beating of an inmate at the Clay County Detention Center.
Eric M. Bottorff of St. Joseph admitted that he violated the civil rights of the inmate, who had been brought to the jail on a Claycomo traffic warrant.
Bottorff, 33, admitted that by striking the prisoner, he deprived the inmate of his rights to due process and to be free from unreasonable force.
“This unprovoked assault was a clear violation of this victim’s constitutional rights,” U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said in a written statement. “The use of excessive force by law enforcement officers is a serious offense that strikes at the heart of constitutional protections for all citizens.”
Bottorff’s defense lawyer and the prosecutor agreed to ask for a sentence of probation should the judge formally accept the plea agreement at sentencing.
Bottorff previously had been acquitted in state court of second-degree assault in the case.
While being admitted to the jail on Dec. 22, 2008, the inmate admitted to deputies that he was carrying illegal drugs in his body cavities, according to state court records.
Deputies took the prisoner to another room, where he undressed. After demanding several times that the inmate “get it out,” Bottorff sprayed mace in the prisoner’s eyes and them punched him more than a dozen times in the face, back and buttocks.
“For most of these punches, Bottorff held the mace canister in his hand, which increased the impact of the punch,” state records reported.
After producing a small bag, the prisoner acknowledged that he still had drugs concealed in his rectum.
State court records said the inmate squatted naked before the deputies as Bottorff aimed a stun gun at the prisoner’s genitals.
The prisoner pleaded, “Don’t tase me,” and “Please don’t kill me,” according to court records.
Surveillance cameras recorded the incident. Doctors later treated the 29-year-old inmate for cuts and bruises on his face.
After the beating, Clay County officials placed Bottorff on administrative leave during an internal investigation. He was fired in January 2009.