Huntsville officer found guilty

CONTRIBUTED
CONTRIBUTED

BIRMINGHAM – A former police officer with the City of Huntsville has been sentenced for excessive use of force and obstruction of justice.

On Dec. 2, U.S. District Court Judge Abdul K. Kallon sentenced Brett Russell, 48, to 18 months in prison for violating the civil rights of a Huntsville man.

On July 30, 2015, a federal jury in Huntsville convicted Russell of deprivation of rights under color of law for assaulting and injuring a suspect detained in Russell’s custody. This jury also convicted Russell on obstruction of justice for filing a false police report regarding this incident.

According to evidence presented at trial on Dec. 23, 2011, the suspect was detained in a police vehicle parked in a hotel parking lot. After initially uttering profanity and kicking a rear window, the suspect had been sitting handcuffed, compliant and non-resisting for approximately 30 minutes.

As officers attempted to remove the suspect from the vehicle to shackle him, Russell yanked the suspect from the vehicle. The suspect was lying handcuffed on the ground when Russell repeatedly punched and kneed him.

Other officers placed leg shackles on the suspect. Russell transported the suspect to the Madison County Jail. The jail refused to accept the suspect because of injuries, and Russell transported him to Huntsville Hospital.

Russell then wrote and submitted a false incident report claiming that suspect tried to kick and head butt the officers. Russell omitted any reference to use of force.

“The defendant’s abusive and dishonorable behavior is being punished and an errant officer brought to justice,” Joyce White Vance, Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney, said.

“Law enforcement officers who abuse their power to willfully subject those in their custody to violence and pain will be held accountable,” Vanita Gupta said. Gupta is Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Fortune and Xavier O. Carter Sr. and trial attorney Carroll McCabe of the Civil Rights Division prosecuted the case.

For more information, visit www.usdoj.gov/usao/aln.

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