Huntsville officer federally indicted for 2011 excessive force arrest

Huntsville officer federally indicted for 2011 excessive force arrest

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Huntsville police officer has been federally indicted for using excessive force


Brett M. Russell was indicted four years after the arrest, according to Acting Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, and FBI Special Agent Roger C. Stanton.

Brett M. Russell, 48, is accused of assaulting a man during an arrest on Dec. 23, 2011 and depriving him of his constitutional right not to be subjected to excessive force by someone acting "under code of law." The indictment also states that Russell obstructed justice by making false statements and concealing information in the incident report he filed on the arrest.

"We are fully committed to investigating and prosecuting where appropriate, the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers," Vance said.

In the indictment, the victim is identified as "G.H." The indictment also states that Russell falsely stated in his report that G.H. kicked at the officer, attempted to head-butt officers while they transported him to Russell's vehicle, that he was told to stop resisting several times but would not comply and that he was transported "without incident" to the Huntsville Metro Jail.

The indictment states that Russell failed to report that he "had struck G.H with is first and kneed G.H. in the body."

The City of Huntsville issued a statement regarding Russell's indictment:

“The history of the case is public and the City took the action it deemed appropriate in 2012 when it terminated Officer Brett Russell. Upon appeal to the City Council, the officer was reinstated provided he undergo retraining, which he has done. The City is not in the position to speak for the Justice Department regarding its investigation and indictment, however, we will continue to cooperate with attorneys as appropriate in this matter.”

Russell was fired by the Huntsville Police Department in May 2012. However, in August 2012, the Huntsville City Council voted to reinstate him.

WAFF legal analyst Mark McDaniel said it's rare for the DOJ to get involved once an officer has already been reinstated. McDaniel also said not much will change for the victim once the officer is indicted.

"They won't be looking at any kind of civil allegations that involve money at all; that's out of the way," McDaniel said. "The issue is, has there been a civil rights violation, just like we had in the case recently in Madison?"

Councilman Will Culver said this is the perfect time for the city to look into new technology like body cams to benefit police and the people they serve.

The maximum penalty for deprivation for civil rights under color of law is a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty of obstruction of justice is a $250,000 fine and 20 years in prison.

An investigation by the Florence Resident Agency of the FBI is ongoing.

Russell's attorney is scheduled to make a statement on Friday. WAFF will keep you updated on-air and on

You can watch a clip of the dash cam footage of Russell right here.

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