Thursday, May 29, 2008
FORMER CLAY COUNTY SHERIFF’S CHARGED WITH EXCESSIVE FORCE,OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former deputy with the Clay County Sheriff’s Department was charged in federal court today with violating a defendant’s civil rights by using unreasonable force during an arrest and with obstruction of justice.
Donald A. Devens, 59, of Smithville, Mo., waived his right to a grand jury and was charged in a two-count information filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City. Devens was a Clay County deputy for four years before resigning on Oct. 7, 2005.
The federal charges stem from an incident that occurred on Aug. 16, 2005, while Devens was on road patrol near Kearney. Devens began pursuing a pickup truck that was traveling at a high rate of speed. Eventually, Devens and Kearney, Mo., police officers stopped the vehicle, which was driven by Wesley A. Lewis, and Lewis was arrested.
The information charges Devens with deprivation of rights under color of law. Devens allegedly assaulted Lewis, thereby depriving him of his Constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by one acting under color of law, resulting in bodily injury to Lewis.
The information also charges Devens with obstruction of justice. Devens allegedly destroyed a videotape recording of Lewis’ arrest that was taped from the Devens’ patrol vehicle. Devens destroyed the videotape, the information alleges, in order to obstruct the investigation involving Lewis’ arrest.
Under federal statutes, if convicted of both charges, Devens could be subject to a sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000. Wood cautioned that the charges contained in this information are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roseann A. Ketchmark. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation