Former Dolton Police Officer Sentenced to 75 Months in Prison for Violating Civil Rights of Two Men He Beat with Baton
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 20, 2013|
CHICAGO—A former south suburban Dolton Police officer was sentenced today to 75 months in federal prison for violating the civil rights of two men by using excessive force against them with his baton outside a Dolton nightclub in May 2009. The defendant, Kevin Fletcher, 36, of South Holland, who was convicted at trial in May, was sentenced on two counts of violating the victims’ civil right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a person acting under color of law. The judge and the jury had the benefit of video surveillance recordings that captured most of the scene.
“There was only one person who was out of control that night, and that was Mr. Fletcher,” U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo said in imposing the sentence in federal court in Chicago. The judge said she took into account Fletcher’s anger that night, that he lied when he testified at trial, and had expressed no contrition, while also noting that “being a policeman is a hard job.”
Fletcher joined the Dolton Police Department in October 2006. The evidence at trial showed that at approximately 2 a.m. on May 17, 2009, he and other officers were working crowd control outside the former Mr. Ricky’s 141 Club, as it and other bars along Chicago Road near 141st Street in Dolton were closing. While performing his duties as a police officer, Fletcher used an expandable metal police baton as a dangerous weapon to strike two victims, Michael McPherson and Laurence Williams, once each in the head. The jury found that both victims suffered bodily injury, and the evidence showed that both required hospital treatment and staples to close their head wounds.
Fletcher “had used lethal force against two unarmed victims who had merely mouthed off to him,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Cunniff Church argued at sentencing. “With each of these baton strikes, [Fletcher] gave the community reason to doubt law enforcement, reason to challenge its authority, reason to believe that law enforcement cannot be trusted. He inflicted violence into the community that he had sworn to protect.”
Ms. Church, together with former Assistant U.S. Attorney Tinos Diamantatos, argued during the trial that Fletcher was offended by the victims cursing at him as he directed them to depart the Chicago Road area after leaving the nightclub and then abused his authority by striking them each over the head with his baton to “teach them a lesson.” Fletcher made no effort or attempt to arrest either victim and departed the scene after striking them with his baton, without rendering or summoning any medical aid. Both victims, as well as Fletcher, testified at the trial.
The sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Shields, Jr., Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division assisted in the investigation.