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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Former Belen Police Department Detective Pleads Guilty to Using Excessive Force Against Arrestee

ALBUQUERQUE – John Lytle, 41, a former detective with the Belen Police Department in Belen, N.M., pleaded guilty in federal court today to violating an arrestee’s civil rights by assaulting him during the course of an investigative stop and arrest.

During his guilty plea, Lytle admitted that on March 15, 2012, while working in his capacity as a Belen Police Department detective, he repeatedly struck the victim, identified by the initials R.A., who was handcuffed and compliant during the entire course of the stop.  Lytle further admitted that, at one point during the stop, he pulled the handcuffed victim from the back of a police squad car, threw him to the ground, and struck him again. The victim suffered injuries to his face and torso as a result of Lytle’s assault.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Lytle will be sentenced to five years of probation.  He also will be precluded from working or seeking future employment as a law enforcement officer in any capacity, and he must forfeit his law enforcement certification.  Additionally, the Court may impose a fine, or order Lytle to pay restitution to the victim.

“The defendant has admitted that he, in his capacity as a law enforcement officer, violated a person’s constitutional rights,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who use the trust and authority of their official position to engage in acts of criminal misconduct.”

Today’s plea resulted from the investigative work of the Albuquerque Division of the FBI.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico Mark T. Baker and Trial Attorney Julia Gegenheimer of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Updated January 26, 2015