Former Memphis officer pleads guilty to hitting man he arrested

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A former Memphis officer has pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a man who was in his custody by hitting him in the head with his gun, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Armando Bustamante faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing in June after pleading guilty to one felony count of deprivation of rights under color of law, the U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis said in a news release.

Prosecutors said Bustamante arrested a man in January 2021 and struck him in the head with his service weapon and his hands, without legal justification.

The man suffered injuries in the assault, prosecutors said.

The guilty plea comes as the U.S. Justice Department investigates the actions of Memphis officers involved in the Jan, 7 arrest of Tyre Nichols, who was punched, kicked and hit with a police baton after Nichols fled a traffic stop.

Five Memphis officers already have been accused of state charges of second-degree murder and other alleged offenses in the arrest of Nichols, who died Jan. 10.

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