Huntsville officer indicted for excessive force in 2011 arrest

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On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Brett M. Russell, a Huntsville Police Officer, on charges of using excessive force in a 2011 arrest. 

The two-count indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court. It says that Russell assaulted a man during an arrest on December 23, 2011. The court says Russell was depriving the man of his constitutional right not to be subjected to excessive force by someone acting in the official capacity of a police officer, or “under color of law.” 

The indictment also says that Russell obstructed justice by leaving out information in the incident report about the arrest and giving false statements.

Gary Wayne Hopkins was in the backseat of a police cruiser when he kicked out the back window. 

According to the indictment, Russell stated in his report that Hopkins kicked at officers and attempted to head-butt them. Russell stated that Hopkins was told to stop resisting but would not comply and was taken to jail. 

Russell did not put in his report that he hit Hopkins with his fist and kneed him in the body, according to the indictment. 

Russell was fired for his role in the incident, but appealed to the Huntsville City Council and was reinstated. In 2012, Hopkins was offered $22,500 from the city, in exchange for dropping a pending lawsuit.

The maximum penalty Russell faces for the deprivation of civil rights is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

An investigation by the FBI is ongoing.

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