Indicted on six counts of civil rights violations, obstruction of justice, and firearms offenses, a former Michigan police officer pleaded guilty Friday to using excessive force against a civilian arrestee and violating the arrestee’s civil rights. According to the plea agreement, the officer admitted to pistol-whipping two separate motorists in the same night.
On June 22, 2014, Hamtramck Police Officer Ryan McInerney and another officer were in pursuit of a red Honda when McInerney hit the vehicle with his patrol car. Although the suspect placed both of his empty hands out the driver’s window in an act of surrender, McInerney fired at him before pistol-whipping the suspect and placing him under arrest according to a lawsuit filed in 2016.
On August 30, 2018, the Justice Department announced that a federal grand jury had returned a six-count indictment charging McInerney with civil rights violations, obstruction of justice, and firearms offenses in connection with two civilian arrests on July 22, 2014. As a result of the assaults, one of the civilians suffered broken facial bones and lacerations requiring stitches, and the other civilian suffered broken teeth, among other injuries.
On Friday, McInerney pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for use of excessive force. The former officer confessed to pulling over a motorist on June 22, 2014, and ordering the driver to put his hands in the air. Although the motorist complied and did not present a danger, McInerney pistol-whipped him several times in the face, resulting in broken facial bones.
McInerney also admitted that he wrote a false report claiming that he used his fist instead of his pistol when striking the motorist. Later that same night, he pistol-whipped a second motorist during a different arrest which resulted in breaking the suspect’s teeth.
“Officers are supposed to serve as role model for upholding the law,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said in a press release. “It is disheartening to hear of a police officer taking such actions. The Justice Department works hard to ensure that officers who take the law into their own hands see their day in court.”
“Most police officers honorably serve and uphold their mission to protect the citizens of Michigan, but this is a rare example of an officer who has fallen far below his duty,” noted U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of the Eastern District of Michigan. “Officer McInerney abused the power of his badge by violating the civil rights of two Michigan citizens, and for that he deserves federal prison time.”
“Police officers take an oath to protect, serve, and uphold the law. When an officer betrays that oath by violating a person’s civil rights, the FBI will make it a priority to hold the officer accountable,” stated Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Ryan McInerney’s actions were a betrayal of the trust his community placed in him and are not reflective of the honorable way in which the men and women of the Hamtramck Police Department work to keep their community safe.”
McInerney is currently scheduled to be sentenced on April 19. If the court accepts the plea agreement, McInerney faces a maximum sentence of 36 months in prison.