Former Gwinnett County Deputy Arraigned on Excessive Force and Obstruction Charges

Former Gwinnett County Deputy Sheriff Aaron S. Masters, who was assigned to the Rapid Response Team (RRT) at the Gwinnett County Jail, has been arraigned after a federal grand jury indicted him of acting under color of law to deprive an inmate of her civil rights and of falsifying a report of the incident. The indictment follows an investigation of an allegation that Masters used excessive force against a female inmate in 2018 by repeatedly striking her in the head. The indictment was announced by Eric. Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division; Byung J. (BJay) Pak, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia; and Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.

According to the indictment and other information presented in court, at the time of the alleged misconduct, Masters was employed as a deputy sheriff assigned to work on the Gwinnett County Sheriff Office’s RRT inside the Gwinnett County Jail. The RRT was a specialized unit that resolved high-risk incidents and provided general assistance in maintaining order in the jail. On Aug. 20, 2018, Masters, without legal justification, repeatedly struck an inmate in her face with his closed fist, injuring her. Following the assault, Masters wrote a report about the encounter in which he falsely claimed that the physical force was necessary to gain the inmate’s compliance.

Masters, 27, of Jefferson, Georgia, was indicted on Jan. 14, 2020.

The charge of deprivation of civil rights under color of law resulting in injury provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of falsifying a police report provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Alan Gray and Department of Justice Civil Rights Trial Attorney Tim Visser.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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Author: January 16, 2020

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