Former Iowa State Patrol Trooper sentenced for civil rights violation
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWQC) - A former Iowa State Patrol trooper was sentenced on March 7, to two years of probation for deprivation of rights under color of law.
Robert James Smith, 58, pleaded guilty in September 2022. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $7500.
According to court documents, on Sept. 25, 2017, Smith was on patrol and saw a person driving a motorcycle on Interstate 80 at a speed above the posted speed limit.
Smith attempted to catch up to the motorcycle, court documents show. The motorcyclist exited Interstate 80 in Cedar County, stopped the motorcycle and got off. In his marked squad car, Smith exited behind the motorcycle, engaged the overhead lights and siren, parked near and quickly approached the person with his pistol drawn and pointed at the person.
According to court records, the person was standing next to the motorcycle with hands in the air, when Smith with an open palm hit the person’s chin area, causing the person to fall back over the motorcycle. Then Smith knelt on and handcuffed the person, then stood the person up.
In a report about the incident, Smith wrote he reached with his hand intending to take hold of the victim’s shoulder but instead inadvertently came into contact with the front side of his helmet, court records show.
In his plea agreement, Smith admitted his open-hand palm strike was intentional, done with a bad purpose or improper motive to disregard the law, and was an unreasonable use of force.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, according to a media release. United States Attorney Richard D. Westphal of the Southern District of Iowa made the announcement.
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