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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Former Lake Charles police officer pleads guilty to using excessive force

LAKE CHARLES, La. – Robert Hammac, 45, a former officer of the Lake Charles Police Department, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge James D. Cain Jr. for using excessive force against an arrestee, announced U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph for the Western District of Louisiana, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and FBI’s New Orleans Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Anderson.

Hammac pleaded guilty to a single count of deprivation of rights under color of law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242.  According to documents filed today, Hammac was involved in a vehicle pursuit of G.T. on May 8, 2017, for several miles. The car was brought to a stop, and G.T. raised his hands in the air in a manner indicating surrender. Other officers then ordered G.T. out of the car and began pulling him out of the car. Hammac ran to the front passenger side door, opened it, grabbed G.T. before he could exit, pulled him back into the car, and repeatedly punched G.T.’s head with a closed fist. The victim was not resisting in any way or posing a threat.

“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph.  “The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their difficult and dangerous duties with integrity and courage.  However, law enforcement officers who betray the badge and the public’s trust, as the defendant did here, also dishonor their profession and their fellow officers.  This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in the Western District of Louisiana.”

“Law enforcement officers must uphold and defend the constitution,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “When an officer abuses their power, the public’s trust in law enforcement is compromised. The Department of Justice will continue to hold such officers accountable under the law.”

“Police officers respond to challenging and dynamic situations every day,” stated FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Anderson. “They are trained to maintain professionalism and adhere to standards of conduct in any situation. In this instance, the officer did not apply his training and violated the constitutional rights of the victim. Instances such as this are unacceptable and will continue to be high priority investigations of the FBI.

Hammac faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. The court set sentencing for Nov. 14.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamilla Bynog of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Mary J. Hahn of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.

Updated August 15, 2019