LONDON — A former Perry County jailer pleaded guilty to assaulting a pre-trial detainee, refusing to offer him medical care, and falsifying official logs. The pre-trial detainee would later die from the injuries he sustained during the assault.
Damon Wayne Hickman appeared in the United States District Court Eastern District of Kentucky Southern Division in London. He entered a plea agreement in the criminal case against him.
According to the plea agreement, Hickman admitted to using excessive force against Larry Trent, a pre-trail detainee. The assault happened at the Kentucky River Regional Jail in July 2013.
The plea agreement says Hickman and Curtis Howell, another deputy jailer, attempted to remove a mat from Trent’s cell on July 9, 2013, around 7:19 a.m. After Hickman and Howell opened the cell door, Trent exited the cell with his arms flailing.
According to the plea agreement, Hickman tased Trent as he ran into the booking area. The plea agreement says the taser had no effect on Trent, so Hickman wrestled Trent to the floor.
The plea agreement says Hickman admitted to kicking Trent in the torso whole Trent was on the floor without justification.
With the help of two other deputies, Hickman and Howell carried Trent back into the detox hallway.
As they were carrying Trent back to his cell, the plea agreement says Trent managed to retrieve the taser from the deputies. The deputies placed Trent on the floor and were able to recover the taser within seconds. This encounter happened right outside of Trent’s cell.
Despite the other deputies having possession of the taser, Hickman admitted he and Howell continued to assault Trent in front of his cell.
Hickman admitted in the plea agreement that while Trent was restrained and under control, Howell punched Trent in the head and also stomped on Trent’s arm. Hickman admitted that he drive tased Trent, the plea agreement says.
The plea agreement says Hickman or Howell kicked Trent in the pelvic area.
The assault left Trent with an open head wound. After placing Trent back into his cell, Hickman said Howell walked into the cell and kicked Trent in the face.
According to the plea agreement, Hickman admitted that he and Howell cleaned the blood off their arms, hands, and clothing, but left Trent in his cell and intentionally failed to provide him with medical care.
Hickman admitted to falsifying jail logs that said Trent was OK when Hickman knew Trent was not OK, the plea agreement says.
The plea agreement says a maintenance worker discovered Trent in his cell not breathing, four hours after the assault.
Trent was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The plea agreement says Trent had multiple shoe and boot prints on his body. According to the plea agreement, Trent had a large boot print on his torso and a shoe print on his face.
The primary cause of death, an autopsy says, was hemorrhaging caused by the pelvic fracture. The plea agreement says the blunt force trauma to Trent’s head, trunk, and extremities also contributed to his death.
Hickman could spend 40 years behind bars and a fine of $750,000.
He is scheduled for sentencing in February.
TJ Caudill is a reporter with The Hazard Herald and he can be reached at 606-629-3245.