Dolton Police Officer Convicted Of Civil Rights Violations For Using Excessive Force With Baton
CHICAGO — A south suburban Dolton police officer was convicted today of federal civil rights charges for using excessive force against two victims outside a Dolton nightclub in May 2009. The defendant, KEVIN FLETCHER, who is on administrative leave from the department, was found guilty on two counts of violating the victims’ civil right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a person acting under color of law. Jurors, who had the benefit of a video recording that captured most of the scene, deliberated less than an hour today after a trial that began Monday in U.S. District Court.
Fletcher, 35, of South Holland, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. He was ordered to return to court at 9:45 a.m. Monday for a hearing on the government’s motion to revoke his bond before U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo. Sentencing was set for 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 16.
Fletcher joined the Dolton Police Department in October 2006. The evidence at trial showed that at approximately 2 a.m. on May 17, 2009, he and other officers were working crowd control outside the former Mr. Ricky’s 141 Club, as it and other bars along Chicago Road near 141st Street in Dolton were closing. While performing his duties as a police officer, Fletcher used an expandable metal police baton as a dangerous weapon to strike two victims, Michael McPherson and Laurence Williams, once each in the head. The jury found that both victims suffered bodily injury, and the evidence showed that both required hospital treatment and staples to close their head wounds.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tinos Diamantatos and Megan Cunniff Church argued to the jury today that Fletcher was offended by the victims cursing at him as he directed them to depart the Chicago Road area after leaving the nightclub, and then abused his authority by striking them each over the head with his baton to “teach them a lesson.” Fletcher made no effort or attempt to arrest either victim and departed the scene after striking them with his baton, without rendering or summoning any medical aid. Both victims, as well as Fletcher, testified at the trial.
Before trial, the government dismissed an obstruction of justice count that was contained in the November 2011 indictment against Fletcher.
The guilty verdict was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division assisted in the investigation.