ST. LOUIS — A former St. Louis City Justice Center corrections officer learned Tuesday she’ll get four years in prison for her role in a vicious inmate beating.

The prison sentence, from a federal judge today, is just the beginning of the story. The incident could also come at a cost to taxpayers. The mother of the man beaten on a March 2021 video wants $10 million in damages. She’s asking for it in a civil lawsuit filed this week over the video.

The jail video shows the special needs section of the jail. You can see Demeria Thomas, who was a corrections officer at the time, talking with two inmates before buzzing open the cell door of a third inmate, who’s then attacked. You can also hear Thomas yell at other inmates to stay back.

A lawsuit filed this week said in part, “(Thomas) participated in the planning of the beating, opened the victim’s locked cell door, and watched with amusement while plaintiff was beaten into unconsciousness.”

FOX 2 later spoke to one of the attacking inmates who claimed to us that the corrections officer initiated the entire attack.

“We were extremely surprised that he did open up and told you that,” said attorney Mark Pedroli, who filed the suit on behalf of the victim’s family. “If Kevin Moore is telling the truth, then that means there is a pattern and practice at the St. Louis City Justice Center of beating up inmates who might mouth off to guards.”

Demeria Thomas walked out of federal court today with her family, allowed to self-surrender before turning herself in later for her prison sentence. That’s the only break the judge gave her. He sentenced her to four years after telling her, “What you did was depraved. You viewed someone as subhuman.”

The victim inmate’s mother listened in on the hearing via zoom. She told us by phone, “I cried, I thought it was awesome, the judge was great.”

She hopes her lawsuit changes the jails. Pedroli said it starts with the guards.

“You have to train them better,” Pedroli said. “You have to supervise them better, and you have to discipline them and hold them responsible. When you do the wrong thing, they need to let you go. And the question is why aren’t they firing more people?”

Though no one from the Justice Center would comment directly on our report, there is indication leaders are starting to hold employees accountable. New corrections commissioner Jennifer Clemons Abdullah initiated an internal investigation earlier this year that resulted in busting a corrections officer for allegedly bringing fentanyl into the jail.