Colin Boone was fired from his job as police officer in Des Moines, Iowa, after a 2013 incident when he kicked a man in the head while the man was in the midst of an epileptic seizure and three other cops were holding him down. But now, after one trial that ended with a hung jury, the 39-year-old Boone — who had since moved to South Dakota where he worked as paramedic — was convicted of using excessive force on Orville Hill, 29, during a traffic stop.
His fellow officers originally reported Boone for the attack on Hill, which knocked out two of the man's teeth and broke his nose. But perhaps worst of all, the injury has caused the man's epileptic seizures to become become more severe and frequent, Hill testified during Boone's first trial.
"The court agrees with the government that the offense damages the reputation of police officers generally, and specifically the Des Moines Police Department and 'impugns the credibility and work of the hundreds of upstanding officers who serve with the department,' " United States District Court Judge Robert Pratt said as he read out the sentence on Boone on Monday.
Pratt then slapped Boone with a sentence of 63 months — just over five years — in a federal prison.
At a time when police officers throughout the country have faced numerous accusations of excessive force against unarmed suspects, federal prosecutor Nicholas Klinefeldt said that Boone's conviction and sentence send a strong message that such unchecked use of violence by police constitutes a "breach of trust."
"This case wasn't just about an act of violence... This is a serious sentence that we think reflects the seriousness of that breach."In the most recent case of alleged excessive force by police, Los Angeles, California, officers shot an unarmed man in the head on Friday in a residential neighborhood after he flagged them down, seemingly asking for help.
Boone's defense lawyer, asking for probation rather than prison, protested that the former cop's 14-year career was being marred by a single incident that lasted only seconds.
"It is not uncommon in the criminal justice system for a few seconds of poor judgment in an otherwise productive and mostly law-abiding life to carry severe consequences," responded Judge Pratt. "Orville Hill will live with the consequences of the defendant's actions for the rest of his life."
The conviction and sentence of Colin Boone are a rarity when it comes to cases of police violence. A recent study of 11,000 cases of excessive force and other misconduct resulted in only 1,063 convictions of police officers.