By: Katie Francis, Follow South Jersey News Reporting Intern
BRIDGETON, N.J. — Two New Jersey prison guards have reportedly been indicted for their parts in the assault of an inmate caught on surveillance video last summer.
On June 21, 2020, a senior corrections officer at South Woods State Prison allegedly assaulted an inmate. The officer, 50-year-old Jeffrey Shelton, was captured on the correction facility’s surveillance footage assaulting the victim. According to NJ.com, Shelton, who is 50 years old and hails from Lower Alloways Creek Township, also admitted to entering the inmate’s cell “without official purpose” and assaulting him.
Senior corrections officer Carlos Lebron was the housing unit officer assigned at the time of the assault. Lebron, a 28-year-old Millville native, was present and failed to intervene when Shelton assaulted the victim, according to court documents.
The inmate was reportedly serving time on burglary, gun, and drug charges, and he was released from prison in January. Both Shelton and Lebron, who’ve worked within the New Jersey Department of Corrections since 2015, have been suspended without pay pending the result of their criminal case.
A Cumberland County grand jury indicted both prison guards Wednesday on assault and misconduct charges. According to the Associated Press, the charges included in this indictment include second-degree misconduct, second-degree official misconduct, and third-degree aggravated assault.
Shelton and Lebron are being represented by an attorney from their union, which is PBA Local 105. Their attorney said they were simply doing their jobs and following all standard procedures, and he also criticized the New Jersey Department of Corrections for misunderstanding the officers’ conduct, according to NJ.com.
“The inmate was acting out. He looked like he was positioning himself to come at the officers,” the attorney said Monday, per NJ.com. “The officers reasonably perceived that they or others were in jeopardy as a result of the inmate’s conduct. … It seems as though prosecutor’s offices and the attorney general’s office have declared war on cops. It’s unfortunate, because it does nothing to promote the safety and protection of the citizenry.”
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.