The Justice Department announced that former Tallassee, Alabama, Assistant Police Chief, Chris Miles, 41, was sentenced to 41 months in prison for depriving a suspect of his federally protected rights by beating the suspect with a phone book-sized packet of paper during an interrogation and then lying about the incident to an FBI agent investigating the matter. Miles was also sentenced for selling marijuana that he stole from the police evidence room.
Miles’ pleaded guilty on Nov. 17, 2015, to one count of deprivation of civil rights, two counts of false statements and one count of possession with intent to distribute. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson of the Middle District of Alabama.
According to admissions made during his plea hearing, in April 2013, while he was on duty as assistant police chief, Miles beat a prisoner who was serving a sentence at Tallassee Jail while Miles was interrogating that prisoner about uncharged crimes the prisoner was suspected of having committed. During the questioning, Miles grabbed a thick packet of copy paper and used it to strike the victim multiple times across the victim’s face and head. Miles also repeatedly slapped the victim across the face and head with his hand. His abuse caused the victim to suffer bruising and physical pain. Miles also admitted that earlier in 2013 he stole approximately 16 pounds of marijuana from the police evidence room and later sold it to a known drug dealer.
“Law enforcement leaders serve as role models for their fellow officers, and at all times they must act with integrity, fairness and professionalism,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Justice requires even-handed treatment for all, and without exception, we will aggressively prosecute any officer who beats an inmate, breaks the law and lies to federal investigators.”
“Miles was a maverick, working outside the law,” said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. of the Middle District of Alabama. “While we expect interrogations to be thorough, an officer cannot turn an investigation into a punishment. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of our law enforcement official’s act reasonably and within the bounds of the Constitution.”
This case was investigated by the Auburn Resident Agency of the FBI’s Mobile Field Office, with the assistance of Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerusha T. Adams for the Middle District of Alabama and Trial Attorney Gabriel Davis of the Civil Rights Division.