Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Former Memphis Police Officer Convicted of Excessive Force

WASHINGTON – Isaac White, formerly an officer with the Memphis Police Department, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Memphis, Tenn., to using excessive force and causing bodily injury. White faces up to 10 years in prison for the civil rights violation.

White, 29, admitted in court that on Nov. 1, 2008, he struck a handcuffed arrestee twice in the head, violating the victim’s right to be free from excessive force.  White further admitted that he caused his victim substantial pain and bruising.

"It is simply unacceptable for a police officer to beat up a handcuffed arrestee," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "A badge is a sacred trust, not a license to bully."

"The United States Attorney’s Office remains committed to protecting the public from violations of constitutional rights by law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and the public’s trust," said Lawrence J. Laurenzi, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

"When a law enforcement officer violates the civil rights of another, he brings shame on the badge and all law enforcement officers," said Special Agent in Charge My Harrison of the FBI Memphis Field Office. "The FBI makes it a priority to bring a law enforcement officer who violates the constitution and the trust of the people to justice."

"Police officers must not betray the trust of our citizens. We take an oath to protect, serve and uphold the laws of the state of Tennessee. When we violate that oath we will be held accountable," said Memphis Police Director Larry A. Godwin. "As police director, it is my priority to see that this department will not tolerate criminal acts by its officers, and we will seek prosecution of any and all officers who choose to do so."

The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, including those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. 

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Memphis Police Department Sergeant Matt Whittington and Officer Paul Sherman.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.

09-1281