WASHINGTON – Former Velda City, Mo., police officer Lewis McGee and former detective Mark Winger both pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate the civil rights of a jailed man.
According to the plea agreements, on July 31, 2006, Winger and McGee, while acting in their capacities as law enforcement officers, conspired to physically assault the victim who was being detained at the Northwoods Police Department. While McGee held the victim on the ground with his foot, Winger struck the victim multiple times causing him bodily injury. McGee and Winger then made false statements to a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to cover up their roles in the conspiracy and assault. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
“Any act of police misconduct threatens to undermine public trust in the worthy goals of law enforcement,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers serve with great distinction under often difficult circumstances. Those who abuse their authority by breaking the laws they are meant to enforce will be vigorously prosecuted by the Justice Department.”
The guilty plea resulted from an investigation by the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Rosen from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri, and Trial Attorney Edward Chung from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice prosecuted the case.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of the federal criminal civil rights statutes, such as laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In fiscal year 2006, almost 50 percent of the cases filed by the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division involved excessive force or law enforcement misconduct. Since fiscal year 2001, the Division has filed 25 percent more such cases and convicted nearly 50 percent more defendants in these cases than in the preceding six years.