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3 former Florida prison guards sentenced in beating of inmate

The inmate was kicked in the face 15 times and knocked unconscious during the 2020 assault.

Three former Florida corrections officer who beat an inmate when he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground, knocking him unconscious, were sentenced to multiple years in prison Monday, prosecutors said.

The March 3, 2020, beating at the Hamilton Correctional Institution Annex involved 15 kicks to the inmate’s face, according to court documents.

The former officer who kicked the man, Coty Michael Wiltgen, 32, was sentenced three years and one month in prison, according to court documents.

The two other officers, Ethan Burkett, 25, and William Story Shackelford, also 25, were sentenced to two years and seven months and two years and one month, respectively.

“Burkett, Wiltgen and Shackelford knew that the use of force was unnecessary and excessive, counter to their training and completely unjustified at the time that they used, and watched others use, force against the victim,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said in a statement Tuesday.

Burkett was chasing another inmate, and the inmate who was later beaten pushed Burkett off his path, according to court documents.

The inmate who would be beaten was then handcuffed and taken to an area and tripped to the ground.

Wiltgen said something to the effect of “if you want to hurt somebody, we’re the ones to hurt,” and started kicking him in the face, Wiltgen admitted in a plea agreement.

Shackelford held the inmate to the ground with his knee and struck him, and when Burkett arrived he also hit the victim, prosecutors said.

The three men pleaded guilty last summer to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. They were ordered to surrender to prison by April 28, according to court records.

Attorneys listed for the three men either did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening or declined to comment.