Sheriff's Dept. sergeant headed to halfway house
By MATT CHANDLER
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A former sergeant with the Erie County Sheriff's Department was sentenced to eight months in a halfway house after being convicted of abusing an inmate at the downtown holding center.
U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder handed down the sentence to Thomas Thompson of Grand Island for his role in the attack on the unnamed inmate.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini Ross, on Jan. 18, 2010, Thompson recruited other deputies to assist him in the search of a cell at the Erie County Holding Center. He was following up on an anonymous report of illegal narcotics in a unit that housed the victim.
After arriving at the victim's cell, Thompson asked which inmate had the illegal narcotics. He was told by the victim that an inmate across the hall had the drugs but a search of that inmate's cell did not turn up anything. Thompson and the other deputies then returned to the victim's cell and told him that because he had lied and did not assist with finding the drugs, he would have to be punched. Thompson then told the victim to pick the deputy who should commit the assault. The victim pointed to a deputy, who then punched him.
"As a member of law enforcement, this defendant took an oath to uphold the law," said U.S. Attorney William Hochul Jr. "As a sergeant in the Erie County Holding Center, Thomas Thompson was expected to not only watch over the inmates inside the jail but to also supervise the other guards in his unit. In this case, the defendant, in fact, organized a group of deputies to participate in the attack on a pre-trial detainee who had not yet been convicted of any crime. As the outcome of this case demonstrates, such criminal behavior will not be tolerated."