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Katie R. Crews, 29, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, has pled guilty in federal court to violating an individual’s rights by using excessive force while acting as a police officer.
According to the Dept. of Justice, during the plea hearing, Crews admitted that on or about June 1, 2020, while acting as a police officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department, she shot an individual with a pepperball, while the individual was standing on private property and not posing a threat to the defendant or others. Crews pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count for using unreasonable force. Crews’s guilty plea carries a maximum term of imprisonment of one year, and a maximum fine of $100,000.
According to the Justice Department, part of the plea agreement mandates Crews is no longer an officer with the Louisville Metro Police Department and has forfeited her Kentucky law enforcement certification.
“Police officers who abuse their authority and act outside the bounds of the law will be held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute any officer who violates the public trust by using excessive force without cause.”
With her guilty plea and pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, the defendant will also forfeit her right to seek future employment in law enforcement. A sentencing date has been set for Jan. 30, 2023.
The FBI and the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit jointly investigated the case through the Louisville Public Corruption Civil Rights Task Force.
According to WKLY-CBS, Crews was among the LMPD and National Guard members dispersing a crowd at the corner of 26th Street and Broadway in June of 2020 when protests erupted over Breonna Taylor’s death.
She was accused of firing pepper balls at the niece of restaurant owner, David McAtee, as she stood in the doorway of his eatery.
That’s when the federal indictment said McAtee fired off two shots which then led to police and National Guard returning fire and killing him, per NPR.
Cops have ‘qualified immunity’ and they’re not giving it up
‘Qualified immunity’ is a legal doctrine that protects government officials from being sued for constitutional violations while they are on the job unless that person violates what experts call clearly established law.
Due to qualified immunity, it is nearly impossible to sue a police officer. Many critics of American police forces argue the cops personally responsible for committing acts of police brutality and misconduct will never be held fully accountable. Rolling back qualified immunity has become a central focus of police reform after the 2020 murder of George Floyd.
Since then, despite majority support and multiple campaigns calling on policymakers to act, both Congress and the Supreme Court have remained reluctant to do so. Far from the only reform to correct modern policing, passing uniformity in the form of qualified immunity would cause “bad apple” police officers to think about how their actions will affect not only their victims, but their very own livelihood.