Ex-Louisville Jail Officer Sentenced To Federal Prison For Beating Detainee

Jan 27, 2023 at 10:35 am
Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.
Louisville Metro Department of Corrections. Photo by Carolyn Brown.

A former Louisville Metro Department of Corrections officer has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for a 2020 incident in which he beat a pretrial detainee to the point the man’s jaw broken.

The Department of Justice announced the sentencing of Darrell Taylor, 32, in a press release Thursday. Last October, a federal grand jury found Taylor guilty of violating the detainee’s civil rights by using unreasonable force. 

Prosecutors say on Dec. 15, 2020, a “detainee with reported mental health issues” used “insulting language” while speaking with Taylor. They say Taylor then followed the man back to his bunk before punching him to the point he lost consciousness. Prosecutors say Taylor then took the man’s unconscious body and slammed it into the ground, breaking his jaw and cheekbone.

“The defendant abused his authority as a law enforcement officer and betrayed the public’s trust when he violently assaulted a detainee in his custody,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “Officials working inside jails and prisons who abuse inmates and detainees are not above the law, and we will continue to vigorously prosecute those who deprive people of their constitutional rights.”

According to court documents filed by Taylor’s attorney John McCall, Taylor testified that the detainee “screamed threats about hurting someone and used racial slurs” ahead of the incident. The defense also claimed the man “pointed a spork” at Taylor before he “began to fight” the officer, who McCall wrote was trying to remove the man from a dorm. In a sentencing memorandum, the attorney added that “inmates and officers testified” a person using racial slurs would be at risk from other incarcerated people in the dorm.

While federal charging documents only identify the incarcerated person by “B.R,” as LEO previously reported, a federal lawsuit was filed by a man named Brandon Robertson in November of 2021 against Taylor, the city and former jail director Dwayne Clark describes the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that after the beating, Robertson was left unconscious and handcuffed in a pool of his own blood. Complaints in a lawsuit represent only one side’s version of events.

Taylor’s charges and sentencing came amid several crises at Louisville’s troubled jail. 

A consultant hired by the city to examine the jail last year found a “disturbing” tolerance for poor performance and misconduct at the facility. He wrote “customs and practices regarding the use of force and restraints are dangerous and creating significant liability concerns."

Since late November 2021, a period of 14 months, 13 people have died in the custody of Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.