Avery Lemarcus Lawrence, 32, went before a judge Thursday for sentencing after a jury in November declared him guilty of official oppression, assault by a public servant and for violating the civil rights of a person in custody – class A misdemeanors all punishable by up to a year in prison.
Prosecutors said that while patrolling the jail in the summer of 2014, Lawrence pushed inmate John Corey Garcia, slammed him to the ground and then kneed him in the back so hard other inmates could hear Garcia's rib crack. The Bexar County District Attorney's Office, whose public integrity unit prosecuted the case, says that Garcia's injuries were so serious that sheriff's officials at the jail didn't wait for an ambulance and took the inmate directly to University Hospital, where he stayed for about 10 days. During trial, prosecutors called as a witness a use of force expert who testified Lawrence’s actions were excessive and inconsistent with the county's use of force policies.
Lawrence's defense for beating a Bexar County jail inmate so badly he had to be taken straight to the hospital? His defense lawyer Marilyn Bradley told a judge on Thursday that he'd just started his shift as a detention officer, that it was a chaotic scene, and that the inmate, Garcia, was being unruly before the confrontation.
"He might have made a mistake, but it's a tough environment — one officer for 60 inmates," Bradley told the judge at Thursday's sentencing hearing, according to the Express-News.
At Thursday's sentencing hearing, prosecutors also showed the judge three videos of Lawrence either pushing or punching inmates at the jail. Prosecutors also introduced evidence of another
apparent incident of excessive force involving Lawrence, after which they say Lawrence appears to have lied when filling out his reports on the incident.
A former Bexar County jail guard who beat an inmate so badly he had to be taken directly to the hospital was sentenced to one year in jail on Thursday, the maximum sentence allowed.