2nd policeman pleads guilty in abuse case

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - A second former Greenville Police officer has pleaded guilty to abusing homeless people, and will be sentenced at a later date.

Jeremiah Carlton Milliman, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Milliman admitted in court that in September 2009, he assaulted homeless individuals whom he and other officers had just arrested, handcuffed and secured in a patrol car.

In the first incident, Milliman entered the backseat of the patrol car where the victim was sitting alone and struck him in the face with his forearm after the man yelled out, busting the man's lip.

In the second incident, Milliman entered the backseat of the patrol car where a deaf-mute homeless individual was handcuffed. Milliman poked the man with an ink pen, making the man audible a sound that Milliman found amusing. He poked him again so that nearby officers would hear the sound. Milliman then poured a hand sanitizing liquid on the man's head. Another officer later wiped the liquid off the man's head before he was transported to jail.

Milliman is the second Greenville police officer to plead guilty in the case, which arose after other officers in the Greenville Police Department alerted supervisors last year that a small group of officers were engaged in abusive and humiliating conduct towards the city's homeless population.

Last month Matthew Scott Jowers pleaded guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, admitting that he slammed a homeless arrestee into a patrol car with such force that he dented the car.

Both Milliman and Jowers are no longer with the Greenville Police Department, and both have agreed to be de-certified as law enforcement officers. Both remain free on bond until sentencing.

"Law enforcement officers are sworn to protect and serve, not to abuse and humiliate," said acting U.S. Attorney Kevin F. McDonald. "The conduct here was unconscionable and indeed criminal. Our office will prosecute those in authority positions who violate their sworn oath and deny members of the public their civil rights."

Milliman faces up to $200,000 in fines and two years in prison. Jowers faces one year in prison and a $100,000.00 fine.

McDonald said the investigation is ongoing and other charges may be forthcoming.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.