An Alabama police officer broke down at the federal trial of a fellow cop, admitting that he lied to internal affairs investigators twice, lied to an FBI agent and lied to a federal grand jury when he was questioned about his colleague brutally beating a handcuffed man and keeping his property as “trophies.”
Joshua Bates, an eight year veteran of the Huntsville Police Department, testified Tuesday that he lied to cover for fellow officer Brett Russell out of fear of losing his job, but admitted that the incident has haunted him ever since.
The incident took place on December 23, 2011 after Russell responded to a domestic violence call at the home of Gary Wayne Hopkins. Bates, who was training a cadet at the time, was called to the scene to assist Russell with putting leg shackles on the suspect.
Once Hopkins was in custody, the dashcam footage showed Russell punching and kicking the suspect, ordering him to “stop resisting,” despite the fact that he was restrained.
Hopkins was so badly injured that the jail refused to take him until he was treated at a hospital.
Following the incident, the officers on the scene reported that Hopkins was combative and defended Russell’s actions. A few days before testifying, Bates contacted the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case and agreed to tell the truth about what really happened that night in exchange for immunity.
“I didn’t think he was resisting,” Bates said on the stand. “I was still in shock about what was going on.”
Bates told the court that he had been in disbelief as the incident unfolded, and admitted that Hopkins was not resisting and had not spit at officers or head butted anyone – as was previously reported.
Another witness who testified Tuesday was the first officer who had arrived at Hopkins’ home. He stated that he found property belonging to Hopkins inside the officer’s vehicle on January 5, 2012, which corroborates the prosecutions claims that Russell had stolen his property to keep as trophies.
In dashcam footage from the incident, Russell could reportedly be heard saying, “You deserve to get that ass whooping.”
Despite Hopkins having to be treated in the hospital for his injuries, Russell reported that he had taken the man into custody “without incident,” withholding the fact that he had beaten the man.
In May of 2012, Rusell was fired from the department, however, he was reinstated three months later by a unanimous vote from Huntsville City Council.
He is now facing federal charges of deprivation of a person’s civil rights under the color of law and obstruction of justice. If convicted on both counts, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
The dashcam video is below.