Former Michigan police officer sentenced to three years for using unreasonable excessive force during an arrest

A former Hamtramck, Michigan, Police Department officer was sentenced last Thursday in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan for using unjustified and unreasonable excessive force during an arrest of a civilian and violating that civilian’s civil rights. As a result of the assault, the victim, identified in court documents only as D.M., suffered broken facial bones and lacerations requiring stitches, among other injuries.

Ryan McInerney, 45, of Grosse Ile Township, Michigan, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain to three years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release. McInerney pleaded guilty on Jan. 8 to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. As part of the plea agreement, McInerney also voluntarily relinquished his law enforcement license.

“The defendant abused the trust given to him as a law enforcement officer when he pistol-whipped two arrestees on two separate occasions,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute law enforcement officials who violate federal civil rights laws to ensure that the rights of all individuals, including those being taken into custody, are protected.”

“The vast majority of police officers are decent, caring and honorable men and women who are dedicated to protecting and serving the public and safeguarding civil rights,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin for the Eastern District of Michigan. “We live in a nation governed by the rule of law and no one is above the law. Police officers like McInerney who use unreasonable and excessive force and who inflict harm on the very citizens they are sworn to protect will be vigorously prosecuted and brought to justice.”

“The sentencing today is an example of the FBI’s dedication to Civil Rights through its investigations of police officers who abuse their authority under color of law to violate the constitutional rights of those they swore to serve and protect,” said Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “This case should not diminish the work conducted every day by the vast majority of men and women in law enforcement, but the few, like Ryan McInerney, who abuse their official capacity in dereliction of duty, will be prosecuted like any other criminal.”

During the plea hearing, the defendant admitted that on the night of June 22, 2014, while he was on duty as a Hamtramck Police Department (HPD) officer, he initiated a traffic stop on D.M. After D.M. stopped his car, the defendant approached the driver’s side door and ordered D.M. to put his hands up, and D.M. complied. Regardless, and without justification, the defendant used his service firearm to pistol-whip D.M. several times in the face, through the open window of D.M.’s car door. D.M. did not present a danger to the defendant, and there was no lawful reason for the pistol-whipping. The strikes caused D.M. to suffer broken facial bones, among other injuries. The defendant further admitted that he intentionally memorialized a false account of this incident in an official HPD use of force form in order to cover up his excessive use of force against D.M. and to impede any further investigation of this incident. The defendant also admitted that, later that same night during a different arrest, he pistol-whipped a second civilian, identified as J.M., also without justification, breaking J.M.’s teeth.

This case was investigated by the FBI and was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Lee Carlson of the Eastern District of Michigan.


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