East St. Louis Police Department Officer Indicted on Civil Rights and False Statement Charges
WASHINGTON – Antonio McWherter, a police officer in the East St. Louis, Ill., Police Department, was charged today in a two-count federal indictment stemming from a January 2006 incident in which the officer allegedly punched a handcuffed arrestee in the mouth, announced Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and A. Courtney Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The indictment charges McWherter with a felony civil rights violation and with making false statements to the FBI.
The indictment alleges that on Jan. 30, 2006, officer McWerter assaulted an arrestee, identified in the indictment by the initials "D.C." by punching him in the mouth while he was handcuffed at the East St. Louis Police Department station. The indictment also alleges that the punch resulted in bodily injury to D.C. and that the officer lied to the FBI.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison on the civil rights charge and five years on the false statement charge.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Patricia Sumner, Special Litigation Counsel Jeffrey Blumberg and Assistant U.S. Attorney Angi Scott of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois.