BERRIEN Co., GA (WTXL) - Sheriff Anthony Heath of the Berrien County Sheriff's Office has pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of two arrest suspects by using excessive force, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to the DOJ, Heath has pleaded guilty to using excessive force in two different incidents, one in 2012 and the other in 2014.
During the 2012 incident, Heath is said to have threatened the suspect saying something similar to, "You better not run or I will beat your a**."
The DOJ, says when law enforcement officers caught the suspect, Heath told his deputies to keep him in the woods and then kicked and kneed him in the ribs, and punched him in the head while the suspect was handcuffed and lying on the ground.
In the 2014 incident, the DOJ says Heath punched and kicked a suspect even though he was on the ground and did not attempt to flee during his arrest.
"The people place tremendous power in the hands of someone they elect as county sheriff, and do so in faith that such power will be wielded appropriately," said Acting U.S. Attorney Peterman. "The motto of our Sheriff's in Georgia has traditionally been 'To Serve and To Protect.' Sheriff Heath abused that power and broke faith with those who elected him by physically abusing those he was sworn to protect."
The DOJ says a sentencing date for Heath has not been set.