WASHINGTON D.C.–The Justice Department today announced that Charles Dix, a former deputy sheriff with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, pleaded guilty to willfully using excessive force. While employed as a deputy sheriff, Dix used his stun gun on a citizen while she was in a store parking lot in Pensacola, Florida.
Dix pleaded guilty to one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 242, which makes it unlawful for a law enforcement officer to willfully use unreasonable force when attempting to make an arrest. As part of his plea, Dix acknowledged that on February 3, 2004, he was dispatched to a local store to take a statement from a witness who wanted to provide information regarding alleged child abuse. During this interview, the witness thought that Dix was acting rudely. Accordingly, she called the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office to ask for a supervisor to participate. While she was making this call, Dix ordered her to get off the phone. When she did not, he grabbed her wrist and attempted to place her under arrest. The witness called out for help and ran away. Dix then shot the witness at close range with his stun gun, pulling the trigger multiple times. The citizen was lying on the ground, and not moving, when Dix pulled the trigger for the last time. Dix then filed charges against the citizen for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The sheriff's office subsequently dismissed these charges.
“This case involves an extreme violation of a public trust,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The vast majority of law enforcement officers serve and protect the public with distinction, but violations of the public trust will be vigorously prosecuted.”
Dix agreed that his conduct violated federal law. The maximum penalty for such a violation is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 19, 2006.