Fired for allegedly slamming a handcuffed man’s face against the side of a patrol car, a former Indiana police officer was charged Wednesday with deprivation of rights under color of law.
On March 19, 2019, Gary Police Officer Terry Peck pulled over Rasaan Hamilton who was leaving a McDonald’s and had reportedly encountered Peck during a separate incident earlier that evening. Hamilton later recalled asking why Peck had pulled him over, but Peck refused to answer before pulling him out of the vehicle.
According to Gary Police Detective Olivia Vasquez and Munster Officer Sarah Storm, who arrived at the scene as back up, Peck cuffed Hamilton’s hands behind his back before slamming his face into the back of a patrol car without legal justification. Peck reportedly used enough force to chip Hamilton’s tooth.
Uncomfortable with Peck’s actions, Vasquez and Storm later testified against his use of force against Hamilton and how Peck appeared to escalate the situation. According to records from the Gary Police Civil Service Commission, Peck’s “actions were excessive and unnecessary for this meritless traffic stop.”
In November 2020, the Police Civil Service Commission voted to terminate Peck for his use of excessive force against Hamilton. Peck had previously received two suspensions for separate incidents in 2008 and 2013.
In December 2020, Hamilton’s attorney filed a federal civil lawsuit against Peck and the city seeking at least $2 million in damages. During Peck’s disciplinary hearings, Police Chief Brian Evans said Peck had become a liability to the department.
On Wednesday, a federal grand jury indicted Peck on one count of deprivation of rights under color of law. If convicted, Peck faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.