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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Former Lake Charles Police Officer Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison for Civil Rights Violation

Defendant deprived the victim of his rights during an arrest by using unreasonable excessive force

LAKE CHARLES, La. – A former Lake Charles Police Department officer was sentenced today in federal court for using unreasonable excessive force during an arrest, announced David C. Joseph, United States Attorney 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 Special Agent in Charge Bryan A. Vorndran.

Robert Hammac, 44, of Lucedale, Mississippi, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James D. Cain Jr. to 18 months in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release. Hammac pleaded guilty on August 15, 2019 to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

According to court documents, Hammac was involved in a vehicle pursuit on May 8, 2017, for several miles. The car was brought to a stop, and the victim, identified in court documents as 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 us safe and we at the Department of Justice have their backs,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph.  “However, those officers who betray the badge and the public’s trust, as the defendant did here, dishonor their profession and endanger the safety of their fellow officers.  We will not tolerate police brutality in the Western District of Louisiana.”

“Officers who deprive individuals of their civil rights will not be tolerated,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to upholding and defending the constitutional rights of victims, as shown by today’s sentencing.”

“The judge's decision today reinforces the FBI's commitment that civil rights and color of law violations will not be tolerated,” said Special Agent in Charge Bryan A. Vorndran of the FBI New Orleans Field Office. “Former Lake Charles Officer Robert Hammac abused his position of trust and the authority handed-down to him to protect the members of the public. Law enforcement officers and correctional officers acting under the color of law must ensure a person's civil rights are not violated. The FBI New Orleans Field Office, along the U.S. Attorney’s Office, will continue to uphold the constitution and protect the rights of all persons within U.S. territories.”

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 prosecuted the case.

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Updated November 19, 2019