Dolton cop convicted of striking men with nightstick - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Dolton cop convicted of striking men with nightstick

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A south suburban cop who attacked two men with his steel nightstick faces up to 10 years in federal prison after he was convicted Thursday of using excessive force, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Dolton police Officer Kevin Fletcher was caught on a security camera video hitting one of the victims in the head during a confrontation outside a nightclub in the Dolton on May 16, 2009.

He claimed he acted in self-defense after Michael McPherson, 26, and Laurence Williams, 28, drunkenly threatened him as they left Mr. Ricky's nightclub in the early morning hours.

But after watching the video many times during a four-day trial, a jury took just an hour to find Fletcher guilty on two counts of excessive force, a civil rights violation.

Fletcher, who shrugged in resignation as the verdict was announced by Judge Elaine E. Bucklo, was an "aggressor" who hit McPherson and Williams for no other reason than he "wanted to teach them a lesson" about how to speak to a cop, prosecutor Tinos Diamantatos told jurors.

Diamantatos acknowledged the victims did "not act like perfect citizens" when they swore at Fletcher as he ushered them to their car as the club closed.

But he said that blood was running from McPherson's head after he was hit, noting that Fletcher never tried to arrest the men, fled the scene after the attack and failed to file a report on his use of what could have been "deadly force."

"We're not asking for police officers to be perfect ... we're asking them to be reasonable," Diamantatos said.

Defending Fletcher, attorney Jed Stone said the officer had meant to hit the men on the shoulder but missed.

Fletcher made a "split second decision" to strike them once each after they threatened him, Stone said, adding Fletcher was a poorly-trained, inexperienced officer working for an underfunded department on "streets filled with the potential for violence."

Speaking after the verdict, Stone said Fletcher wouldn't have been charged if he'd arrested McPherson and Williams.

Fletcher was originally accused of trying to force then-police Chief Robert Fox not to cooperate with the federal investigation, but that charge was dropped before the trial.

Ronald Burge, Dolton's current police chief, described the verdict as "unfortunate," but added, "The jury has spoken."

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