Former Hamtramck, Michigan Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights Charge For Excessive Use of Force
Former Hamtramck police office Ryan McInerney, 44, pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan to using excessive force against a civilian arrestee and violating the arrestee’s civil rights.
As a result of the assault, the victim, identified in court documents only as D.M., suffered broken facial bones and lacerations requiring stitches, among other injuries.
At the plea hearing, the defendant admitted that on the night of June 22, 2014, while he was on duty as a Hamtramck Police Department (HPD) officer, he initiated a traffic stop on D.M. After D.M. stopped his car, the defendant approached the driver’s side door and ordered D.M. to put his hands up. D.M. complied. Regardless, and without justification, the defendant pistol whipped D.M. several times in the face, using his service firearm, through the open window of D.M.’s car door. D.M. did not present a danger to the defendant, and there was no lawful reason for the pistol-whipping. The strikes caused D.M. to suffer broken facial bones, among other injuries.
The defendant further admitted that he intentionally memorialized a false account of this incident in an official HPD use of force form in order to cover up his excessive use of force against D.M. and to impede any further investigation of this incident. The defendant also admitted that, later that same night during a different arrest, he pistol-whipped a second civilian, identified as J.M., also without justification, breaking J.M.’s teeth.
“Officers are supposed to serve as role model for upholding the law,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Eric Dreiband. “It is disheartening to hear of a police officer taking such actions. The Justice Department works hard to ensure that officers who take the law into their own hands see their day in court.”
“Most police officers honorably serve and uphold their mission to protect the citizens of Michigan, but this is a rare example of an officer who has fallen far below his duty,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan. “Officer McInerney abused the power of his badge by violating the civil rights of two Michigan citizens, and for that he deserves federal prison time.”
“Police officers take an oath to protect, serve, and uphold the law. When an officer betrays that oath by violating a person’s civil rights, the FBI will make it a priority to hold the officer accountable,” said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Ryan McInerney’s actions were a betrayal of the trust his community placed in him and are not reflective of the honorable way in which the men and women of the Hamtramck Police Department work to keep their community safe.”
McInerney will be sentenced on April 19, 2021. If the court accepts the plea agreement, McInerney faces a maximum sentence of 36 months in prison.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Carlson of the Eastern District of Michigan and Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.