Florida ex-officer indicted for excessive force, four others plead guilty

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2016 1:38 PM

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A former Florida sheriff's deputy has been indicted by a federal grand jury for using excessive force during a 2014 arrest where five white law enforcement officers were involved in the beating of a black man, U.S. Justice officials said on Wednesday.

Former Marion County sheriff's deputy Jesse Terrell, 33, was indicted late on Tuesday on a charge of depriving the man of his civil rights. The other officers previously pleaded guilty to that offense, court records show.

The officers have all either resigned or been terminated from the sheriff's department in central Florida, said a spokeswoman for the agency, who confirmed the victim was black. Court records did not identify him by name.

The prosecutions come at a time of heightened scrutiny of the use of force by U.S. law enforcement, particularly against minorities.

Four deputies, including Terrell, struck the man during the August 2014 incident, prosecutors said in court records, and it was captured on videotape. The fifth officer watched and did not try to stop them.

The man was left bloodied in a parking lot where he was apprehended, after fleeing when authorities initially came to search his home. He had raised his hands in surrender and was lying on the ground, court records said.

Terrell's attorney expected that his case would go to trial, saying that his situation differed from the guilty officers.

“Jesse is not guilty. He is not guilty of anything,” said attorney Charles Holloman, declining to elaborate on the case.

Terrell faces up to 10 years in prison. The officers who pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Bernard Orr and Marguerita Choy)