Canadian County ex-jailer pleads to federal charges

A former Canadian County Detention Center worker faces up to a year in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to charges that he assaulted a prisoner.

Jason Barber, 41, of Bethany, entered his plea in U.S Federal Court in the Western District of Oklahoma to charges of depriving a pretrial detainee of his civil rights by using unreasonable force.

U.S. Attorney Mark A. Yancy announced the plea.

Barber faces up to one year in prison, though a sentence of probation has been recommended. He also could be fined up to $100,000.

He will be sentenced in about 90 days, Yancy said.

According to the charges filed Oct. 31, Barber was a ranking lieutenant and serving as a detention center worker at the Canadian County jail on Dec. 23, 2014, when he struck a prisoner during a disciplinary hearing.

The charges claimed that Barber willfully deprived the inmate of his constitutional right to due process of law by striking him.

Because Barber was acting under color of law, his unreasonable use of force violated federal criminal law, the complaint states.

In the absence of bodily injury, the offense is a misdemeanor, Yancy said.

Barber was hired by the sheriff’s office on Sept. 1, 2011. He was fired following a separate incident that occurred March 10, 2016.

In that incident, which occurred Feb. 29, 2016, Barber also was accused of using excessive force.

According to his termination letter from then-sheriff Randall Edwards, Barber was witnessed on video using excessive force against an inmate at the jail. He was initially placed on paid administrative leave and later fired.

Edwards’ letter states that an investigation found that Barber’s actions “were excessive in nature due to the degree of physicality you used in grabbing, pushing, chest bumping and knocking the handcuffed inmate down during the incident.”

He had previously been reduced in rank from lieutenant to staff sergeant on July 14, 2015, after he failed to have a probable cause affidavit signed by a judge in the required time, according to his personnel record, which was provided through an open records request.

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