Former Clay County Correctional Officer Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Arrestee
KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former correctional officer with the Clay County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department pleaded guilty in federal court today to violating the civil rights of an arrestee by assaulting him.
Eric M. Bottorff, 33, of St. Joseph, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to a federal information that charges him with deprivation of rights under color of law.
“This unprovoked assault was a clear violation of this victim’s Constitutional rights,” said Dickinson. “The use of excessive force by law enforcement officers is a serious offense that strikes at the heart of Constitutional protections for all citizens.”
According to court documents, Bottorff was working as a correctional officer in the Clay County Detention Facility in Liberty, Mo., on Dec. 22, 2008. Bottorff, while in his official capacity, came into contact with the victim, identified in court documents as J.C., who was brought into the facility as an arrestee on outstanding warrants from a local municipality.
Bottorff admitted today that he physically struck J.C., resulting in serious bodily injury and thereby depriving J.C. of his constitutional right to due process of the law.
Bottorff was acquitted by a trial jury in November 2012 of a state charge of felony assault.
“This federal prosecution transcends the issue of a mere assault to address the significant Constitutional issues that are raised,” said Dickinson. “There remains a substantial federal interest in preventing law enforcement officers from using excessive force and in protecting the rights of all citizens to due process of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, the government agrees to request a probationary sentence. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Ketchmark and Trial Attorney Sheldon L. Beer of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. It was investigated by the FBI.