A former Providence Police Department sergeant was sentenced by a federal jury Thursday following a 2016 wrongful arrest during which he tased, pepper sprayed, struck with a baton and punched a victim who had not committed a crime.
William Dukes, Jr. deprived “a Kentucky citizen of his constitutional rights” when he made an arrest while knowing he did not have probable cause to believe the victim had committed a crime, according to the Department of Justice.
The victim called authorities May 26, 2016 seeking to file a complaint about an earlier interaction with Dukes, the Department of Justice said in a news release Thursday. Dukes responded by threatening to arrest the victim if he called again.
The victim, “still determined to file a complaint,” then called the local sheriff’s office and Kentucky State Police to make a complaint about Dukes, who then drove to the victim’s house when he became aware of the calls, court records show.
Dukes attempted to arrest the victim because of the complaining phone calls he had made, and he entered the victim’s home after 1 a.m. without a warrant, the Department of Justice said.
“Dukes then tased the victim, sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, struck him repeatedly with a police baton, and punched him in the face, breaking the victim’s nose,” according to court records. The sergeant then handcuffed the victim and charged him with four crimes, “including a charge of property damage because blood from the victim’s broken nose got onto Dukes’ police uniform,” court records show.
He later tried to derail the FBI investigation, according to his indictment. Dukes “knowingly covered up, falsified and made a false entry in, a record and document with the intent to impede, obstruct and influence the investigation and proper administration of that matter,” the indictment alleged.
Dukes was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release.
“Police officers have a duty to protect the rights of members of their communities and safeguard them from harm or injury,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “Dukes abused his authority as a law enforcement officer by illegally arresting his victim and also by inflicting unwarranted physical harm, and the Justice Department held him responsible.”