Huntsville Police Officer Indicted for Excessive Force in 2011 Arrest
BIRMINGHAM—A federal grand jury today indicted a Huntsville police officer for using excessive force during a 2011 arrest, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Roger C. Stanton.
A two-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges that BRETT M. RUSSELL, 48, of Huntsville, assaulted a man during a Dec. 23, 2011, arrest, thereby depriving the man of his constitutional right not to be subjected to excessive force by someone acting in the official capacity of a police officer, or “under color of law.” The indictment also charges that Russell obstructed justice by making false statements and concealing information in the incident report he filed on the arrest.
“We are fully committed to investigating, and prosecuting where appropriate, the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,” Vance said.
The indictment identifies the subject of the arrest by the initials, “G.H.” According to the indictment, Russell falsely stated in his incident report that G.H. kicked at officers, attempted to head-butt officers while they transported him to Russell’s vehicle, that he was told to stop resisting several times but would not comply, and that he was transported to the Huntsville metro jail “without incident.” Russell omitted from his report that he “had struck G.H. with his fist and kneed G.H. in the body,” the indictment says.
The maximum penalty for deprivation of civil rights under color of law is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The investigation by the Florence Resident Agency of the FBI is ongoing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Xavier O. Carter Sr. and DOJ Trial Attorney Carroll McCabe are prosecuting the case.
An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.