Washington, DC

USCP Officer's Reckless Act: Guilty of Violating Civil Rights

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U.S. DOJ, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys – Washington D.C. – Digital ForensicsPhoto byU.S. DOJ, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys – Washington D.C.

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WASHINGTON – Thomas Smith, a former officer of the United States Capitol Police (USCP), pleaded guilty to a charge of violating an individual's civil rights. The charge stems from his reckless involvement in a dangerous pursuit, displaying a deliberate indifference towards the danger he had created. The announcement of this plea was made by U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves, FBI Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs of the Washington Field Office's Criminal and Cyber Division, and Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

On the evening of June 20, 2020, a disturbing incident occurred in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Former security officer Smith's actions during that time have now reached a resolution, as he pleaded guilty to charges of deprivation of rights under color of law. Court documents shed light on the events that unfolded that evening.Smith was on duty, tasked with conducting security checks at the homes of members of Congress. However, he deviated from his assigned duties when he took it upon himself to pursue two individuals who were riding motorized cycles. This pursuit, according to USCP policies, was prohibited outside of the Capitol grounds, unless there were emergencies or supervisory approval. Smith failed to seek the necessary approval, thus violating protocols.These facts paint a picture of an officer who acted outside the scope of his authority and violated established guidelines. By pleading guilty to the charge, Smith acknowledged his wrongdoing and accepted responsibility for his actions. The court proceedings allowed for a resolution in this case, bringing closure to a troubling incident that unfolded within the nation's capital.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Officer Smith of the United States Capitol Police (USCP) found himself involved in a distressing incident. Pursuing a group of motorcyclists closely, Smith's USCP cruiser collided with one of them at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, Northwest. The impact was forceful enough to propel the cyclist into the air, and he landed on the harsh asphalt below. Regrettably, rather than providing aid or alerting the appropriate authorities as per USCP protocols, Smith proceeded to maneuver his cruiser around the victim and promptly departed the scene of the accident. Additionally, in an unjustifiable attempt to conceal the details surrounding the incident, Smith went on to deceitfully manipulate multiple USCP records.

“Like all of our law enforcement partners, we know that the overwhelming majority of U.S. Capitol Police officers do their difficult and dangerous jobs honorably and lawfully,” said U.S. Attorney Mathew M. Graves for the District of Columbia. “But former officer Smith violated the Constitution and abused his position by recklessly engaging in a dangerous pursuit that resulted in an unnecessary collision that could have had devastating results. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the civil rights of all District residents and to holding accountable individuals who violate those rights.”

“A federal law enforcement officer who abuses his authority by engaging in reckless and obstructive conduct not only violates the law, but also public trust,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “All police officials who deprive citizens of their civil rights will be held accountable. We will aggressively prosecute any law enforcement officer who violates the most basic constitutional rights of our citizens.”
“Contrary to the oath he took as a law enforcement officer and a government employee, Smith endangered and showed disregard for others’ lives,” said Special Agent in Charge Jacobs. “His guilty plea today demonstrates the FBI’s unwavering pursuit of justice on behalf of the American people."

Smith could potentially be subject to a severe repercussion of up to 10 years of incarceration. The sentencing has been set for January 22, 2024, wherein a judge from a federal district court will impose a sentence after carefully considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other relevant statutory factors.

The case in question was thoroughly investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office. Leading the investigation were Assistant U.S. Attorney Gauri Gopal and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kendra Briggs, who not only conducted the investigation but also brought forth the necessary indictments and carried out the prosecution. The legal team handling the case is comprised of Trial Attorneys Sanjay Patel and Laura-Kate Bernstein from the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Visser representing the District of Columbia. All of them are dedicated professionals who are diligently working towards justice in this matter.

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