SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - A former South Bend police officer faces up to 10 years in prison after admitting to violating the civil rights of a handcuffed man he pushed into a wall and punched in the face.
Theodore Robert, 41, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court. Robert admitted that he pushed the man, identified in court documents only as “GH,” into a wall, pressed his arm against the man’s head and throat before punching him. The handcuffed man sustained a cut above his eye.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Christopher Nuechterlein accepted the plea agreement. He previously rejected the deal in December when Robert defended what he did, saying he punched the man in self-defense and said he “could have lost his life that night.” At that hearing, Robert repeatedly avoided answering questions about his actions on May 30, 2010.
Nuechterlein said at the time that if Robert wasn’t prepared to admit to the charge, he could go to trial.
The attack was captured by jail surveillance cameras. The department initially suspended Robert, who became a South Bend police officer in 2006, for 30 days after striking the man. The then-interim police chief asked the safety board to fire him. Robert challenged the firing and the board demoted him and suspended him 120 days.
Another police chief also tried to fire Robert, saying the department had received 18 complaints against him, but put that on hold while the case moved through federal court. Robert resigned in October 2015.
He will be sentenced May 19.
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