William Dukes, Jr., a former sergeant with the Providence, Kentucky, Police Department, was sentenced today to 42 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for willfully depriving a Kentucky citizen of his constitutional rights under color of law, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman for the Western District of Kentucky.
The jury found that Dukes willfully violated the Constitution by arresting the victim, while knowing that he did not have probable cause to believe that the victim had committed any crime. The evidence presented at trial established that after the victim called the authorities seeking to file a complaint about an earlier interaction with Dukes, he wrongfully arrested the victim.
The jury heard evidence presented in court that when the victim called the Providence Police Department to complain about Dukes, Dukes responded by threatening to arrest him if he called back again. Still determined to file a complaint, the victim then called the local sheriff’s office and the Kentucky State Police. When Dukes became aware of these additional calls, he drove to the victim’s home in the middle of the night, without a warrant, to arrest him.
Upon arriving at the victim’s home after 1 a.m., Dukes attempted to arrest the victim based solely on the phone calls he had made complaining about Dukes. When the victim insisted he had done nothing wrong and retreated into his home, Dukes entered the victim’s home without a warrant. Dukes then tased the victim, sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, struck him repeatedly with a police baton, and punched him in the face, breaking the victim’s nose. Next, Dukes handcuffed the victim and charged him with four crimes, including a charge of property damage because blood from the victim’s broken nose got onto Dukes’s police uniform.
The jury convicted Dukes of willfully violating the victim’s constitutional rights, and found that the offense involved the use of a dangerous weapon or resulted in bodily injury.
“Police officers have a duty to protect the rights of members of their communities and safeguard them from harm or injury,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “Dukes abused his authority as a law enforcement officer by illegally arresting his victim and also by inflicting unwarranted physical harm, and the Justice Department held him responsible.”
“Kentucky lawmen and women are among the finest in the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman “But when they cross a clear line, as did Mr. Dukes, they will be held accountable like any other citizen of our Commonwealth.”
This case was investigated by the Louisville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Hancock of the Western District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Zachary Dembo of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division.
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Author: September 13, 2018