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Press Release

Former Maryland Police Officer Found Guilty of Federal Civil Rights Violation

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A federal jury in the District of Columbia today convicted former Officer Philip Dupree, 38, of the Fairmount Heights Police Department in Maryland, for using excessive force.

“Police brutality and violent misconduct against defenseless people are disgraceful acts that have no place in our society today,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When law enforcement officers abuse their power, it erodes trust with the communities they are sworn to protect and serve. The victim was handcuffed and already restrained in the back of the defendant’s squad car at the time of the assault. The Justice Department is committed to holding accountable law enforcement officers who violate the civil and constitutional rights of those in their custody.”

“We depend on law enforcement officers to protect our communities from crimes and to protect our civil rights while doing so,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “An officer who abuses his authority breaks the community’s trust and unfairly tarnishes the reputation of the vast majority of officers who do their jobs the right way. The jury found that the defendant broke that trust when he unjustly and unreasonably used force and violence against a fellow citizen.”

“Law enforcement officers swear to protect the people they serve, including those in their custody,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office. “Dupree defiled that responsibility and violated a man’s civil rights. As this case demonstrates, the FBI will not hesitate to investigate officers of the law who engage in misconduct, including those who use excessive force.”

During a weeklong jury trial, the evidence showed that, during the early morning hours of Aug. 4, 2019, Dupree was on duty as a Fairmont Heights Police Officer when he conducted a traffic stop in the District of Columbia. Dupree detained a man identified as T.S. and then deployed pepper spray as T.S. was handcuffed and seated in the back of Dupree’s police car. The government argued, and the jury found, that Dupree’s use of force was a violation of T.S.’ right to be free from excessive force by a law enforcement officer.

A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date. Dupree faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for his alleged use of unreasonable force.

The FBI Washington Field Office is investigating the case.

Trial Attorney Sanjay Patel of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Rakoczy and Christopher Howland for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.

Updated June 17, 2024

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 24-768