Former Iowa State Patrol Trooper pleads guilty to federal civil rights violation

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 12:21 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWQC) - A former Iowa State Patrol trooper accused of assaulting a motorcycle rider during a traffic stop in 2017 pleaded guilty Monday in connection with the case.

Robert James Smith, 58, pleaded guilty to deprivation of rights under color of law in U.S. District Court, Cedar Rapids.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.

According to court documents, on September 25, 2017, while Smith was on patrol, he saw a motorcycle speeding on Interstate 80 and tried to catch up to it.

The motorcyclist got off the interstate in Cedar County, stopped the bike, and dismounted.

According to court documents, Smith got off the interstate behind the motorcycle, turned on his overhead lights and siren, parked near the motorcycle and quickly approached the rider.

As the rider was standing next to the motorcycle with hands in the air, Smith struck the rider in the chin with an open palm. The force of the strike caused the rider to fall back over the motorcycle.

Smith then knelt on and handcuffed the rider then stood the rider up, according to court documents.

In his plea agreement, Smith admitted that this intentional open hand palm strike was with a bad purpose or improper motive to disregard the law and was an unreasonable use of force, according to prosecutors.

In July, the case went to trial but a federal jury was unable to reach a verdict.