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Press Release

Jury Convicts Millvale Police Officer On Civil Rights Charge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH - After deliberating approximately four hours, a federal jury found Nicole Murphy guilty of deprivation of rights under color of law, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

U.S. Attorney Hickton said, “Law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold and obey the law. Nicole Murphy did neither when she used a dangerous weapon to subdue a handcuffed defendant, thereby violating his civil rights.”

Murphy, 30, was tried before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

According to Assistant United States Attorneys Carolyn J. Bloch and Cindy Chung, who prosecuted the case, the evidence presented at trial established that Murphy, on Sept. 21, 2012, while acting under color of law as a police officer with the Millvale Police Department, deprived an individual identified as Thomas Smith of the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force, by deploying a taser in both drive and probe-stun modes on Smith’s person while he was handcuffed behind his back and seated on the floor of the squad room at the Millvale Police Department.

Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for March 13, 2015, at 10 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued defendant on bond.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Murphy.

Updated July 14, 2015