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Former Arkansas Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violation

WASHINGTON— Shannon Houchin, a former officer with the Crittenden County Sheriff's Office in West Memphis, Ark., was sentenced today in federal court in Little Rock to one year and one day imprisonment following his conviction on a civil rights violation.

At his guilty plea on July 23, 2007, Houchin admitted that he abused his authority as a police officer when in May 2006, he unnecessarily assaulted an arrestee as the man was being taken into the booking area of the Crittenden County Detention Facility.

“Law enforcement officials have a special duty to protect the rights of people in the communities they serve, not to prey upon them,” said Rena J. Comisac, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who cross the line to engage in acts of criminal misconduct.”

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the aggressive enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws. In the past six years, the Division has convicted nearly 50 percent more defendants for color of law, or official misconduct, violations than in the previous six years. The Division continues to set records in the enforcement of criminal civil law. Last year, the Division convicted 189 defendants for civil rights violations, which is a record number in the 50-year history of the Division. Last year’s record broke the record set in 2006.

Today’s sentence resulted from the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Civil Rights Division attorneys Christine Dunn and Karen Ruckert handled the case for the Justice Department.