News and Press Releases

Two Former Russell County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office Deputies Sentenced to Prison for Assaulting Handcuffed Man in Custody

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 6, 2012

Washington - The Justice Department announced today that Kirby Dollar and Timothy Watford, former deputies with the Russell County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office, were sentenced in federal court in Montgomery, Ala., for their participation in the beating of a handcuffed man who had been taken into official custody. U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Fuller sentenced Dollar, 37, to 47 months in prison and Watford, 42, to 34 months in prison.

Defendant Dollar pleaded guilty on August 11, 2011, to willfully depriving the victim of his constitutional right to be free from the use of excessive force. Defendant Watford was convicted of the same charge by a federal jury sitting in Opelika, Ala., on September 1, 2011, following a three day trial.

Dollar and Watford, while acting as deputy sheriffs, punched, kicked and slapped the victim, who was lying on the ground in handcuffs and offering no resistance. The victim suffered multiple lacerations, facial fractures and a ruptured eardrum. Dollar admitted, and witnesses during Watford’s trial confirmed, that the attack was entirely unprovoked.

These convictions and sentences demonstrate that the use of excessive force cannot be tolerated," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The vast majority of police officers do an outstanding job in protecting both the community and the rights of the accused, even in stressful situations. But when police officers use excessive force to punish arrestees, they will be held accountable."

George L. Beck, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, made the following statement:

“Our law enforcement community consists of hard working, law-abiding citizens. They often face personal injury or death in order to protect our safety. Criminals are becoming more daring and more dangerous. Yet our police officers remain steadfast in their sacrifice so that we citizens can enjoy our freedoms. We all owe the law enforcement community a debt of gratitude for their unselfish dedication to the law.”

“However, as well intended as some officers may be, police activity must remain within constitutional bounds. Each citizen, whether a teenager who commits his first crime, or the hardened repeat adult offender, maintains his constitutional right to be free from injury or abuse once apprehended. The officers’ job is to investigate, apprehend and arrest. There is no room for inflicting summary punishment. Punishment is for the courts.”

“Let these two convictions and sentences serve as examples of bad conduct that will be prosecuted by this office. Emotions cannot overcome good judgment…Zealousness cannot overcome good training…and brutality can never be a substitute for effective law enforcement.”

The case was investigated by the Mobile Division of the FBI- Montgomery Office and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Russell County Sheriff’s Office, the Lee County Alabama Sheriff’s Office and the Columbus, Ga., Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathan D. Stump and Jared H. Morris and Trial Attorney Benjamin J. Hawk of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

 

PRESS CONTACT: Clark Morris
Email: usaalm.press@usdoj.gov
Telephone: (334) 551-1755
Fax: (334) 223-7617

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