Change-of-plea hearing for last ex-guard in inmate spraying

A federal judge schedules change-of-plea hearing for former Louisiana prison guard accused of watching as other guards pepper-sprayed handcuffed, kneeling inmates and then joining a cover-up.

A federal judge has scheduled a change-of-plea hearing for a former Louisiana prison guard accused of watching as other guards pepper-sprayed handcuffed, kneeling inmates.

Former Lt. Christopher Loring is the last of five former guards at Richwood Correctional Center accused in the case.

On Thursday, Judge Terry Doughty scheduled Loring's hearing March 13 in Monroe, online court records showed. Loring had been scheduled to face trial April 15.

Loring is charged on four counts of the seven-count indictment: conspiracy to violate the inmates' civil rights; conspiracy to obstruct justice; depriving the inmates of their rights by standing by while the others sprayed the inmates' eyes and faces; and lying to the FBI.

Five inmates sued the guards and prison officials in 2017, saying that in October 2016, they had been strip-searched and questioned about tattoos, allowed to put their clothes back on, and later were lined up on their knees and sprayed with "mace" while their hands were cuffed behind their backs.

The guards were indicted in April 2018.

The other four defendants all have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and have acknowledged spraying at least one inmate. Prosecutors agreed to drop other charges against them.

Former Capt. Roderick Douglas pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the inmates' civil rights, while the others — former Officers Quintail Credit and David Parker, and former Sgt. Demario Shaffer — pleaded guilty to plotting to conceal the wrongdoing.

Each could get up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Doughty scheduled sentencing on May 1 for Shaffer, May 15 for Parker, May 1 for Credit and June 5 for Douglas.

Richwood Correctional Center is a 1,100-inmate, medium-security prison operated by LaSalle Corrections in Richwood, a Ouachita Parish town just outside Monroe in northeast Louisiana.

Douglas' signed statement, filed with his guilty plea, is the most detailed account of what happened. It said he used pepper spray on two kneeling, handcuffed inmates, and then handed the can to other guards to use.

All five officers filed false reports to explain why the inmates needed medical treatment, the indictment says.