News and Press Releases

Former Desert Hot Springs Police Officer Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Abusing Suspects with Pepper Spray and Taser

July 23, 2012

LOS ANGELES – A former police officer with the Desert Hot Springs Police
Department was sentenced this afternoon to four years in federal prison for
violating the civil rights of two suspects in police custody.

Anthony Sclafani, 42, of Beaumont, received the 48-month sentence from
United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. In addition to the four-year prison
term, which Sclafani was ordered to begin serving by September 24, Judge Hatter
ordered the defendant to perform 500 hours of community service after Sclafani
completes his prison sentence.

A federal jury convicted Sclafani in February of two counts of deprivation of
rights under the color of law.

Sclafani, “a police sergeant and watch commander at the Desert Hot
Springs Police Department, abused his authority when he willfully used excessive
force by pepper spraying and shocking with a Taser gun two arrestees on two
consecutive days without any lawful justification,” prosecutors wrote in a
sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Sclafani used an X26 Taser
gun to stun suspects in two incidents in February 2005. In one incident, the
suspect was handcuffed when Sclafani used pepper spray and the Taser on the

“I don’t believe I should have to live in fear of police brutality, no matter what
my background or where I come from,” the victim said in court today.

In the second incident, a female suspect – who prosecutors argued was too
drunk even to stand on her own – was in a locked cell when Sclafani opened the
door to spray her in the face with pepper spray and to use the Taser on her.

Sclafani “intimidated, abused and repeatedly assaulted two helpless victims
who were in his custody at the jail in two separate incidents without any lawful
justification,” prosecutors wrote in court papers. “To cover up his illegal conduct,
he then concocted lies that the victims were combative and physically resistant to
justify his use of force.”

The case against Sclafani is the result of an investigation by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.

Release No. 12-096

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