WASHINGTON – A Ripley, Tenn., police officer was arrested today on federal civil rights and obstruction of justice charges, the Justice Department announced. Stephen Michael Kirkpatrick, 47, was indicted on two counts of violating the victim’s rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and the use of unreasonable force by a person acting under color of law and one count of obstruction of justice. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Tennessee on Tuesday.
The indictment alleges that on May 17, 2011, while acting as a police officer, Kirkpatrick assaulted and choked an unnamed victim, identified only as “C.B.S.,” resulting in the victim suffering bodily injury. The obstruction count alleges that on or about May 24, 2011, Kirkpatrick knowingly attempted to corruptly persuade a person, identified only as “J.I.N.,” in an official proceeding.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the civil rights counts and a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine on the obstruction count.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Memphis, Tenn., division of the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti of the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Ryan Murguía of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.