Federal indictments unsealed in Cheatham County Taser incident

Staff Reports • Jun 26, 2018 at 6:57 PM

NASHVILLE – Federal indictments were unsealed Tuesday that charged current and former supervisory corrections officers at the Cheatham County Jail in Ashland City with federal civil rights and obstruction offenses.

Former Cpl. Mark Bryant was charged with two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of obstruction of justice. Sgt. Gary Ola was charged with two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Both were arrested Tuesday and made initial appearances before a U.S. magistrate judge on Tuesday afternoon.

Bryant’s indictment alleged Nov. 5, 2016 he twice used unlawful force on a restrained 18-year-old detainee inside the jail. In the first incident, Bryant used a Taser to stun the detainee four times for a total of about 50 seconds while the detainee was in a restraint chair.

In a second incident that happened the same night, Bryant used a Taser to subdue the detainee for about 11 seconds without legitimate justification after the detainee was placed in handcuffs and surrounded by multiple officers. As a result of the unjustified uses of force, the detainee was injured. The indictment further charges that Bryant obstructed justice by submitting false reports about both incidents.

Ola’s indictment alleged he made materially false statements to investigators in two separate interviews during the investigation of Bryant’s Taser use. In August 2017, Ola falsely told agents with the Federal and Tennessee Bureaus of Investigation he walked away from Bryant and did not see one or more of the Taser cycles that Bryant used on the restrained detainee. In a second interview with the FBI in May, Ola falsely said he did not see Bryant stun the detainee after officers placed the detainee in handcuffs.

If convicted, Bryant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the color of law charges and 20 years in prison for the obstruction charges, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Ola faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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