VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - The former Berrien County Sheriff will soon head to prison.
Wednesday, a judge sentenced Anthony Heath was sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison after he pleaded guilty in June to violating civil rights of two suspects by using excessive force.
Heath released the following statement after the sentence came down:
At least 15 people, nearly a whole side of the courtroom, showed up to support Heath.
Two people got up to speak on behalf of his character, but his attorney Paul Hamilton, who has been friends with Heath for quite sometime, also spoke for Heath saying "he's a decent, honorable man who had a significant lack of judgment."
In court Heath pleaded to the judge, admitting he made a mistake and said he's being punished everyday.
Multiple people also argued it's very out of character for Heath.
In response, the judge told Heath he doesn't doubt he is a good man, but he could not let him walk free.
It wasn't immediately known where Heath will serve his time.
Chief Deputy Ray Paulk was appointed as interim sheriff until the November election.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Heath kicked, punched, and kneed a man during a foot chase in 2012. Investigators say the suspect was already handcuffed and face down in the ground.
Two years later, a similar incident happened. Investigators say Heath punched and kicked a man not resisting arrest to the point where the man was bleeding.