GAINESVILLE, Texas (AP) — Two Texas youth prison guards allegedly choked a teenager in custody until he became unconscious, with one of them asking if he was “ready to go to sleep” while the other put part of his leg across his neck, according to court documents released Friday.
A third correctional guard at the same state-run juvenile lockup is accused of walking up to another teenager and punching him in the face, then tackling the teenager to the ground and using a closed fist to land more punches to the head and body.
All three were arrested Thursday and charged with official oppression as part of a state investigation into the troubled Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Since last year, at least nine Texas juvenile correctional officers have been arrested on abuse or misconduct charges, and a 10th former correctional officer was convicted in July on charges of having sex with youth in custody.
The unfolding crisis has led Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to replace the agency’s top leaders and independent ombudsman. He also launched a state investigation into the juvenile system that houses about 1,400 youth offenders — and was drastically downsized and overhauled in 2007 following an earlier sex abuse scandal involving guards and teenagers.
“There is no room among us for those who dishonor themselves and violate the public trust. These arrests improve the safety of the youth we serve,” said Camille Cain, the new executive director over the Texas juvenile detention system.
Court documents filed in Cooke County accuse correctional officers Shannon Hoaglen, 41, and Derrick Day, 39, of moving to restrain a teenager due to a “rule violation” and holding him to the ground until he could “not talk, breath or move until he became unconscious; waking up dazed, confused.” The documents do not spell out what rules the teenager violated or his age. Youths in the Texas system age out at 19.
Another correctional officer allegedly told investigators that Day lay on the teenager and told him “are you ready to go sleep” and counted until “the Youth stopped moving.”
“In the surveillance video, it is obvious, based on the sudden stop in movement by the Youth, that the Youth had lost consciousness during this restraint,” according to an affidavit signed by Sgt Jacob Richardson, who works in the agency’s inspector general office.
Cooke County Jail records on Friday did not list Hoaglen and Day as still in custody, and a court clerk did not know whether they had been arraigned or entered a plea. It was not clear whether either had attorneys, and no working phone numbers for Hoaglen and Day could be immediately found.
Derrick Goodman, 56, who allegedly punched the other juvenile in custody, said he had no comment when reached by phone Friday.
In 2007, Texas lawmakers shuttered lockups across the state after authorities believed at least 13 boys in custody had been sexually abused. Five juvenile lockups remain today but are spread out in rural areas, which juvenile advocates say has made finding and retaining qualified officers difficult.
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