WHEELING, W.Va.- A former Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Monday after using excessive force against an arrestee.

Mark Cowden of Weirton was found guilty in October of deprivation of rights for using excessive force against Ryan Hamrick in January 2015. Cowden was a lieutenant with the sheriff’s office at the time.

According to the FBI, video surveillance from the sheriff’s station shows Cowden forcing Hamrick face first into a brick wall. Cowden then slammed Hamrick’s head into a wall before punching him in the back of the head.

“The defendant abused his power as a law enforcement official, using excessive force to harm a person in his custody,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement. “Actions like these violate federal law and erode public trust.”

Gupta is also the head of the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

The FBI began investigating the matter in March 2016 when the case was referred to the bureau by the United States Attorney’s Office.

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