Pennsylvania Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights Offense
Mark E. Thom Jr., 31, a Springdale Borough, Penn., Police Officer, pleaded guilty to a one count information charging him with violating the civil rights of an individual on Jan. 23, 2011 in Springdale, announced Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and David J. Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
According to the information and plea documents, on Dec. 17, 2011, Thom used excessive force on the victim during the course of making an arrest by assaulting him with his fists and deploying a Taser, all while the victim was handcuffed and not posing a threat to Thom or others. In accordance with his guilty plea, Thom admitted that his conduct amounted to a willful deprivation of the victim’s right to be free from unreasonable seizures.
“Police officers who abuse their power to assault citizens undermine the system of constitutional government they are sworn to uphold,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “As the plea in this case shows, the Civil Rights Division will work closely with our United States Attorneys to aggressively enforce the laws that prohibit police misconduct.”
“Thom admitted to using excessive force by punching and using a Taser against a handcuffed, non-resisting victim,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton. “Thom’s unlawful and unjustified conduct constitutes a clear deprivation of the man’s civil rights, a violation that this office takes seriously, and will vigorously investigate and prosecute.”
“The FBI holds as one of its highest priorities the investigation of civil rights violations, and the Pittsburgh Division will pursue those who are entrusted with protecting our citizenry and violate that trust. The FBI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure that justice is served,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Pittsburgh Field Office G. Douglas Perdue. “I encourage the public to contact our FBI Civil Rights Public Corruption Hotline at 412-432-4122 to report any potential Civil Rights violation.”
Sentencing is scheduled for July 12, 2013. Thom faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Pittsburgh Office of the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun Sweeney and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Adriana Vieco.