A federal judge Tuesday sentenced a 56-year-old police chief who was convicted for his role in the brutal beating of a burglary suspect last year to two years and three months in prison, according to officials.
Daniel Winters, the former police chief of Stevenson, Alabama, beat the inmate and stood by while Winter’s friend beat the inmate, according to officials.
“Our society entrusts law enforcement leaders with the profound responsibility of protecting people from harm,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “When law enforcement officials abuse the individuals they swore an oath to protect, they threaten the reputation of their colleagues in the profession who do their jobs honorably and with integrity. This sentencing makes clear that no one, not even a police chief, is above the law.”
On July 14, 2016, a federal jury convicted Winters of two counts of violating the individual’s civil rights. Winters was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala.
“Police department leadership must set the example and uphold the integrity of their departments and meet the rightful expectation of every citizen that law enforcement officers will act in accordance with the laws they have sworn to uphold,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama. “In this case, a police chief criminally abused his badge in order to benefit a friend and inflict violence on an individual in violation of the Constitution. Our society cannot allow that kind of abuse of power and authority to go unpunished.”
According to the evidence, on March 22, 2015, Winters and a civilian friend Bobby Hicks went to a residence to investigate suspicions that property had been stolen from the friend’s business Hicks’ funeral home on March 22, 2015, according to authorities.
Upon arrival, Winters and his friend entered the residence without a search warrant and encountered the victim who was identified only as D.F. Winters and his friend then began to beat D.F., according to officials.
The beating moved outside where Winters and his friend continued to strike and kick the victim in front of the residence. Over the course of about five minutes, Winters not only participated in the beating, but stood by watching his friend beat D.F. and did nothing to stop it.
A passing motorist called 911 to report the beating. D.F. was left bloody with wounds to his face, chest and back and was taken to the jail at the Stevenson Police Department.
While at the jail, D.F. began to spit up blood. A jailor requested Winters’ permission to call an ambulance, but Winters refused the request. Eventually, the jailor received permission from another supervisor and D.F. was transported to a hospital where he received medical attention.