Former Memphis Police Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

WASHINGTON – Former Memphis Police Officer Isaac White was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison, two years supervised release and a $4,000 fine, announced Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; Edward L. Stanton, III , U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee; Larry Godwin, Director, Memphis Police Department; and Amy Hess, FBI Special Agent in Charge.

On Nov. 25, 2009, White pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of Pierre Jefferson. White admitted that in May 2008, after handcuffing Jefferson, he rammed Jefferson’s head into the corner of a building, and struck Jefferson in the face several times, causing him to fall to the ground. White also admitted to kicking Jefferson after he fell to the ground.

“Police officers are entrusted with great power so that they can carry out their critical public safety responsibilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice does not tolerate excessive force, and when officers abuse their power by abusing people in their custody, the department will aggressively prosecute.”

“The citizens of the Western District of Tennessee are entitled to know that when dealing with a law enforcement officer the officer is there to protect them, not prey upon them,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton. “Accordingly, this office will pursue these cases vigorously.”

“Again this shows the partnership between the Memphis Police Department and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Illegal and criminal activity will not be tolerated by the Memphis Police Department,” said Director Godwin.

“The FBI holds as one of its highest priorities the investigation of civil rights violations, and the Memphis Division will pursue those who are entrusted with protecting our citizenry and violate that trust,” said Special Agent Hess. “The FBI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to ensure that justice is served.”

The case is a result of the continued joint efforts by the Memphis Police Department, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the FBI/MPD Joint Task Force and the Organized Crime Unit. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steve Parker and Brian Coleman, and Civil Rights Criminal Section Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti.