WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted a Bell, Calif., police officer on federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department announced today. Feliciano Sanchez, a police officer with the Bell Police Department, was charged with sexually assaulting a motorist after stopping her for a traffic violation. The indictment also charges Sanchez with using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
If convicted, Sanchez faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count of the indictment.
An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by Special Agent Peter Kaupp of the Los Angeles Division of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tammy Spertus of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, and Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Christine Dunn.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as the laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. In fiscal year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in fiscal year 2006. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in law enforcement prosecutions than it did during the previous seven years.