Correctional officers charged in use-of-force incident

Officials say 2 correctional officers falsified official records

Department of Corrections photo of Cody Gabbard
Department of Corrections photo of Cody Gabbard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A correctional officer and a former correctional officer have been arrested and charged in connection with a use-of-force incident, authorities said.

Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General arrested correctional officer Justin Clemons and former correctional officer Cody Gabbard on Wednesday.

OIG officials said Clemons and Gabbard have been charged with falsifying official records, battery on an inmate by a department employee and criminal conspiracy to commit battery on an inmate.

The charges stem from an incident which happened June 9 at Union Correctional Institution, authorities said.

Department of Corrections photo of Cody Gabbard
Department of Corrections photo of Cody Gabbard

Following the receipt of a use of force reported by Clemons and Gabbard (pictured), the use of force unit within the OIG completed a thorough analysis of the incident and all actions taken by the officers.

The analysis completed by the unit prompted an initiation of a criminal investigation. Through the investigation, the OIG determined the use of force was unjustified.

The investigation revealed the two officers conspired in furtherance of the offense of battery and subsequently falsified official department records in an attempt to justify their actions, according to OIG officials.

The Baker County Sheriff's Office assisted the OIG with the arrest and execution of a search warrant Wednesday afternoon at Gabbard's former home. Authorities said the Union County Sheriff's Office helped the OIG with Clemons' arrest at Union Correctional Institution.

"The Department of Corrections is committed to taking firm and decisive action against those who engage in behaviors that threaten the safety of our inmates and the security of our institutions," Secretary Julie Jones said. "I am confident in the abilities of the Office of Inspector General to aggressively identify and bring justice to those who discredit this department through criminal and administrative misconduct."

Although two arrests have been made, an open and active criminal investigation into the use-of-force incident remains, OIG officials said.