Alabama ex-investigator pleads guilty to beating handcuffed man

Suspect was slammed into ground, vehicle

By Madeline Holcombe and Jamiel Lynch, CNN
iStock/junial

A former Tallahassee police investigator pleaded guilty to assaulting a handcuffed 24-year-old man after his arrest.

According to the guilty plea, Brandon Smirnoff, 27, was on duty in pursuit of the victim on a four-wheeler. Several officers had placed the man in handcuffs and before placing him into his vehicle, Smirnoff lifted him in the air and repeatedly slammed him to the ground.

When putting him into the car, Smirnoff reportedly slammed the man's head into the side of the vehicle, the statement said.

Smirnoff's attorney, Richard White, told CNN "I think he's sorry for what he did and I think that's a sign by him pleading. He has come to the understanding that what he did was wrong."

White said the government gave them a fair offer and after talking to his family and praying about it, Smirnoff came to the decision to plead guilty -- which he says what not an easy decision.

Smirnoff told the judge that he "went beyond what he should have done and what he was sworn to uphold," White said.

"It is especially important in a climate of distrust between law enforcement and the public, that officers act ethically and within the bounds of the law," said US Attorney Louis V. Franklin for the Middle District of Alabama. "He violated this young man's constitutional rights and the trust placed in law enforcement officers to faithfully, ethically, and morally enforce the law. You can be sure that anytime an officer steps over the line and into criminal behavior, as this one did, my office will hold that individual accountable."

Smirnoff faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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