Stevenson, Alabama, Police Chief Convicted of Civil Rights Offenses for Assaulting and Failing to Protect Arrestee
The Justice Department announced today that a federal jury convicted the Chief of Police of Stevenson, Alabama, Daniel Winters, 56, of two counts of deprivation of civil rights under color of law: one count for beating an arrestee, identified as D.F., and one count for failing to protect the victim from harm.
According to evidence presented at trial, on March 22, 2015, Winters and a civilian friend went to a residence to investigate suspicions that property had been stolen from the friend’s business and was located at the residence. Upon arrival, Winters and his friend entered the residence without a search warrant and encountered the victim, D.F. Winters and his friend then began to beat D.F. The beating moved outside where Winters and his friend continued to strike and kick the victim in front of the residence. Over the course of approximately five minutes, Winters not only participated in the beating, but stood by watching his friend beat D.F. and did nothing to stop it. A passing motorist called 911 to report the beating. D.F. was left bloody with wounds to his face, chest and back and was taken to the jail at the Stevenson Police Department. While at the jail, D.F. began to spit up blood. A jailor requested Winters’ permission to call an ambulance, but Winters refused the request. Eventually, the jailor received permission from another supervisor and D.F. was transported to a hospital where he received medical attention.
“This police chief abused his authority, broke the law and violated the public trust,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “When law enforcement leaders engage in egregious, unlawful conduct – as this defendant did here – they do a disservice to the thousands of hard-working officers who perform their difficult, demanding jobs each day with integrity and distinction.”
“Civil rights enforcement is a priority of our office and the trial team on this case did an excellent job of putting the evidence together and presenting it to the jury,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama.
Winters faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the civil rights charges. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 27, 2016, before U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala of the Northern District of Alabama.
This case is being investigated by the FBI and Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation. The matter is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief Laura Hodge of the Northern District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Samantha Trepel of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section.