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Former police officer pleads guilty to civil rights violation

Former South Bend Police officer Theodore Robert pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the civil rights of a man in custody in May 2010.

Robert was indicted by a federal grand jury in May 2015.

In court Monday, he entered a plea of guilty and a sentencing date was set for May 19, 2016.

Robert admitted in previous court documents to striking the victim with his fist. The victim was handcuffed at the time.

I hereby acknowledge that on May 30, 2010, while acting as an officer for the South Bend (Indiana) Police Department, I arrested G.H. and transported him to the St. Joseph's County Jail. While at the Jail, I struck and injured G.H. in circumstances in which I knew that the force that I used was not reasonable. More specifically, in response to verbal comments directed toward me by G. H. while we were in the vestibule of the Jail, I repeatedly and forcefully pushed G. H., who was handcuffed behind his back, into a wall with my arm pressed against his head and throat and then, as multiple other officers attempted to intervene, G.H. attempted to come toward me, and I responded by striking G.H. in the face with a fist. This punch to G.H.'s head caused a laceration above his eye that required medical intervention, including multiple sutures. At the time of the incident, I knew that it was not reasonable or lawful to strike G.H. in the head in the circumstances involved in this incident.

The incident, which happened in the lobby of the St. Joseph County Jail, was recorded on surveillance cameras.

Robert faces a maximum sentence of ten years.

“When police officers violate the laws they swear to uphold, it threatens the credibility of our criminal justice system,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a press release.  “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute and hold accountable those officers who violate the constitutional rights of people in their custody.”

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