West Virginia County Deputy Sheriff Charged with Using Excessive Force and Engaging in Cover-Up
A federal court unsealed a two-count indictment today against Monongalia County, West Virginia, Deputy Sheriff Lance Kuretza, 38, for depriving an individual of his civil rights by using excessive force and for writing a false report to cover it up.
According to the indictment, on Jan. 20, 2018, while on duty, Kuretza subjected the victim to excessive force by punching and elbowing him in the face and, after the victim was handcuffed, spraying him with pepper spray and striking him. The offense resulted in bodily injury and included the use of a dangerous weapon. The indictment further alleges that Kuretza falsified his use of force report by claiming he used pepper spray before the victim was handcuffed, and by omitting any documentation of post-handcuffing force.
Kuretza was arrested earlier this morning and is scheduled to make his initial court appearance later this morning. If convicted, Kuretza faces up to 10 years in prison for the civil rights violation and up to 20 years in prison for falsifying the report.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld for the Northern District of West Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Michael D. Nordwall of the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office announced the indictment.
The FBI is investigating the case, with the support of the Monongalia County Sheriff's Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah E. Wagner for the Northern District of West Virginia and Trial Attorney Kyle Boynton of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation of criminal conduct, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.