Van Zandt County, Texas - David Yager, a former jail sergeant with the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office, has been sentenced to 42 months in prison for violating a jail detainee's civil rights by using unlawful force against him.
Court documents reveal that Yager, 30, pleaded guilty to the charges. He admitted that on February 28, 2021, while acting in his official capacity, he repeatedly punched detainee M.H. in the chest with a taser, even though M.H. did not pose a threat to anyone. The detainee was restrained in a chair at the time of the incident. Yager acknowledged that his actions caused bodily injury to the detainee and that he used force despite the absence of a legitimate law enforcement need.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division expressed, "This defendant abused his authority as a jail sergeant to assault and injure a fully restrained detainee. The Justice Department will continue to hold accountable detention officers and others who use unlawful force against detainees."
U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs for the Eastern District of Texas added, "A crime like this betrays that sacred duty and the badge with which the defendant was entrusted. When officers violate the civil rights of citizens in the Eastern District of Texas through unreasonable and unjustified violence, they will be prosecuted and held accountable."
Special Agent in Charge B. Chad Yarbrough of the FBI Dallas Field Office emphasized the importance of law enforcement's commitment to serving all citizens with compassion, professionalism, and respect. Yarbrough stated, "When law enforcement fails to fulfill its duty to protect and serve its citizens, it erodes the trust that citizens have in us."
The case was investigated by the FBI Dallas Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Batson for the Eastern District of Texas, along with Special Litigation Counsel Kathryn E. Gilbert and Trial Attorney Matthew Tannenbaum from the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Division, prosecuted the case. The sentencing sends a strong message that law enforcement officials who abuse their authority will be held accountable for their actions.