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Press Release

Former Memphis, Tennessee, Police Officer Pleads Guilty to a Civil Rights Violation for Assaulting a Man in his Custody

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A former Memphis Police Department (MPD) officer pleaded guilty in federal court in the Western District of Tennessee to one felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law for assaulting an arrestee in January 2021.

According to the defendant’s admissions at the plea hearing, Armando Bustamante was working as an MPD officer in January 2021. While on duty, Bustamante struck a man in the head using his service weapon and his hands, without legal justification. Bustamante’s assault caused bodily injury to the man.

“This former Memphis police officer abused his authority by violently assaulting a man without basis,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Officers who willfully use excessive force without basis are not above the law and will be held accountable. Whether in Memphis or any corner of the country, the Justice Department stands ready to vigorously prosecute those law enforcement officers who defy the Constitution and violate people’s civil rights.”

“The United States cares deeply about violations of civil rights, here in Memphis and throughout America,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin Ritz for the Western District of Tennessee. “The overwhelming majority of police officers do their jobs honorably and lawfully. As this case shows, we will not hesitate to hold those who violate civil rights laws to account.”

“There is no place in law enforcement for officers who use excessive force,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Civil rights are at the core of the FBI’s mission, and we are dedicated to ensuring that those who are sworn to protect their communities do so without violating the civil rights of those they serve.”

“This plea is the result of the efforts of law enforcement to ensure that any officer who violates the civil rights of those they are sworn to protect is brought to justice,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Douglas S. DePodesta of the FBI Memphis Field Office. “The FBI is committed to protecting the civil rights of all people and wearing a badge does not make one above the law."

Bustamante faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. A sentencing date has been set for June 15.

Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Ritz, Assistant Director Quesada and Special Agent in Charge DePodesta made the announcement.

The FBI Memphis Field Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Pritchard for the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Nikhil Ramnaney of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

Updated February 14, 2023

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-170