Former Homer police officer pleads guilty to civil rights violations
SHREVEPORT, La. – Former Officer Willie Fred Knowles, 66, of the Homer Police Department pleaded guilty today to violating the civil rights of a woman identified only as K.M., announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley of the Western District of Louisiana. Knowles also pleaded guilty to making false statements about the incident to the FBI.
According to the plea agreement, Knowles admitted that, on October 29, 2012, he got into a verbal argument with K.M., who was not under arrest at the time, while he was on duty. He further admitted that during the argument, he pushed her down and struck her face and body without justification. Knowles also admitted that he falsely told FBI agents that the woman started the incident by grabbing him and jumping on his back, and that he never hit her. However, Knowles acknowledged that, in fact, he had started the physical altercation when he pushed the woman down and struck her.
“Without any legitimate reason or cause, this officer chose to use violent force against the victim and then lie to try to cover up his crime,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “Whenever law enforcements officers break the law they take an oath to uphold, they violate the public trust and threaten the reputation of their colleagues who wear the badge and perform their jobs with honor and distinction.”
“This officer’s actions tarnish the reputations and standards upheld by thousands who work in law enforcement across our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Finley. “Our office will continue to make civil rights cases a priority.”
Knowles will be sentenced on Nov. 9, 2016. At sentencing, Knowles faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail for making false statements to the FBI and one year in prison for the civil rights charge.
This case was investigated by the FBI. The case was referred to the FBI by the Louisiana State Police. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary J. Mudrick of the Western District of Louisiana.