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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 3, 2016

Former Alcorn State University Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Former Student

The Justice Department announced that Berthurm Allen, 42, a former police officer with the Alcorn State University (ASU) Police Department in Lorman, Mississippi, pleaded guilty today in federal court to violating the civil rights of an arrestee.

During his guilty plea before Senior U.S. District Judge David Bramlette III of the Southern District of Mississippi, Allen admitted that while acting under his authority as an ASU police officer, he elbowed the victim in the face and threw the victim to the ground without legal justification.  He also admitted that he misrepresented the circumstances surrounding the incident in his official police report to minimize his exposure to allegations of misconduct.  Allen’s actions caused injuries to the victim’s nose and face.  According to information presented in court, the incident occurred at the Claiborne County Jail in Port Gibson, Mississippi, and was recorded by the jail’s surveillance cameras.

“When police officers violate the laws they swear to uphold, it threatens the credibility of our criminal justice system,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute and hold accountable those officers who violate the constitutional rights of people in their custody.”

“The use of excessive force by law enforcement officers is a violation of the officer’s oath to protect the constitutional rights of all persons, even those in custody,” said U. S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis of the Southern District of Mississippi.  “Ensuring that law enforcement officers do not victimize the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect is a top priority of this office.” 

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Jackson Division, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Julia Gegenheimer and Sheldon L. Beer of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Wansley of the Southern District of Mississippi.

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
16-252
Updated March 3, 2016