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Former sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to federal civil rights offense for excessive force

Blake Hicks, 33, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to depriving an arrestee of his civil rights.

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Former Elmore County, Alabama Sheriff’s Deputy Blake Hicks, 33, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to depriving an arrestee of his civil rights under color of law. 

According to documents and statements made in court, Hicks willfully used unreasonable force against an arrestee, identified as T.Q. Specifically, without legal justification, Hicks punched and kicked T.Q. in or around the head while T.Q. was handcuffed and incapacitated on the ground. T.Q. suffered a broken cheekbone, concussion and lacerations from Hicks’ assault.

“Communities entrust law enforcement officers with upholding the rule of law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “By physically assaulting a defenseless member of the community, Hicks violated both the victim’s fundamental constitutional rights and the community’s trust. The Justice Department will continue to ensure that law enforcement officials who abuse their powers are held accountable.”

“Maintaining law and order in a civil society requires trust in law enforcement,” said Acting U.S.  Attorney Jonathan S. Ross for the Middle District of Alabama. “Breaching that trust has consequences. Civil rights violations, such as this one, makes the job of every law enforcement officer in America more challenging, and more dangerous.”

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 24. Hicks faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Mobile Field Office investigated the case. 

Trial Attorney Laura-Kate Bernstein and Special Litigation Counsel Michael J. Songer of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Counts for the Middle District of Alabama are prosecuting the case. 

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