The Justice Department announced Wednesday that Kendall Morgan, 44, the former undersheriff of the Le Flore County Sheriff’s Department (LCSO) in Le Flore County, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to a criminal civil rights violation for using unlawful force on an arrestee.
According to court documents, on Jan. 25, 2017, while acting in his official capacity as LCSO’s undersheriff, Morgan willfully assaulted an individual identified as D.P. by repeatedly striking D.P. while D.P. was in handcuffs and not resisting arrest. The assault deprived D.P. of his right to be free from unreasonable force, did not further a legitimate law enforcement purpose, and resulted in bodily injury to D.P.
“This defendant, an experienced law enforcement officer, is being held accountable for unlawfully injuring a handcuffed man who was not resisting arrest and unable to defend himself,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting any officer who violates their position and authority by using excessive force without cause.”
“Every citizen is entitled to be treated fairly and law enforcement officers should be models of this very important principle,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher Wilson for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. “The defendant’s actions, in this case, were illegal, immoral, and unethical, and justice demands he faces the consequences for his acts.”
“Mr. Morgan’s actions not only violated the civil rights of his victim but compromised the public’s trust in the law enforcement system,” said Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Gray of the FBI Oklahoma City Field Office. “The FBI is committed to holding those who abuse their authority accountable and safeguarding the civil liberties of all Americans.”
Morgan faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.
Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Wilson, and Special Agent in Charge Gray made the announcement.
The FBI Oklahoma City Field Office investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarrod Leaman for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and Trial Attorney Avner Shapiro of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case.