Anchorage police officer indicted on federal charge for violating person’s constitutional rights

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 4:50 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage police officer Cornelius Pettus is facing federal charges for depriving someone of their constitutional rights while he was in his position as a police officer.

The indictment was announced Friday. If Pettus is found guilty, it could result in a felony with up to 10 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Pettus is being indicted for assaulting and injuring another person while in his role as a police officer since he was “violating that person’s United States Constitutional rights to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a law enforcement officer,” the U.S. Attorney’s office in Alaska said in a release.

The charge stems from a 2019 incident with Pettus and cyclist Samuel Allen.

Pettus approached Allen for a bicycle violation — Allen was not wearing a reflective piece of clothing — but Anchorage Police Department said Allen was “uncooperative and left the scene” so Pettus went to Allen’s residence to issue a citation for the violation. APD said Pettus "used force to gain compliance” and arrest Allen.

Allen recorded the encounter with Pettus, who took the phone from Allen even as the phone continued to record the audio. Allen posted two videos of his encounter with Pettus on his YouTube page, which is filled with videos of his interactions with police officers.

Earlier this year, Pettus and another officer, Deorman Stout, were both charged in state court for the incident. Pettus was indicted on two counts of tampering with public records and one count of interference with constitutional rights. Stout was charged with tampering with public records related to the bicycle incident.

Pettus has been placed on administrative leave without pay. Stout is on administrative leave with pay, an APD spokesperson said.

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