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Press Release

Former Memphis Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Using Excessive Force on an Arrestee

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – Bridges McRae, a former officer with the Memphis Police Department (MPD), pleaded guilty today in federal court to a felony civil rights charge related to the use of excessive force, the Justice Department announced today.

During the plea hearing, McRae admitted that Duanna Johnson had been in his custody when he used an unreasonable amount of force against her when he struck her while booking her into the Shelby County Jail. McRae acknowledged that his conduct violated federal law and that he violated Johnson’s civil rights. He further admitted that his attack caused bodily injury to Johnson in the form of cuts, bruises and pain.

McRae faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the civil rights offense. The parties agree that McRae will be incarcerated for 24 months per the plea agreement. McRae also agreed to plead guilty to one count of tax evasion, pending approval by the Department of Justice’s Tax Division.

"Law enforcement officers are entrusted with a great amount of power so that they can effectively carry out their duty to protect public safety. This officer abused that power when he violated the civil rights of an individual in his custody," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Officers who violate the public trust in this way will be brought to justice."

"Ensuring that public officials do not victimize the public by abusing their power is a top priority of this office," said Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

"No one is above the law, especially those who have sworn an oath to uphold the law," said Amy Hess, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Memphis Field Office. "It is a sad day when our citizens are preyed upon by its protectors, however, the FBI is proud to have worked alongside our law enforcement partners to ensure justice was served."

"We will continue to hold all officers of the Memphis Police Department accountable for their actions," said Director Larry Godwin of the MPD. "The citizens of Memphis expect no less. We will continue to investigate all complaints of abuse."

The case was jointly investigated by the FBI and the MPD Security Squad. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.

Updated August 25, 2015

Press Release Number: 10-968