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Ex-Officer Gets 2-Year Term in Brutality Case

Courts: Defendant, who was convicted of trying to beat a confession out of a suspect, is barred from ever working in law enforcement again.


A former Adelanto police officer was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to trying to beat a confession out of one man and forcing another to lick his own blood off a booking room floor.

Before handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Dickran M. Tevrizian Jr. told Thomas Boyd Chandler that he "crossed the line," and that there was "no justification for becoming a cowboy out there."

"It really pains me every time I have to sentence a police officer," Tevrizian said. "It's a blemish on all the men and women who serve conscientiously every day."

Tevrizian also fined Chandler $8,000 and barred him from ever again being a police officer.

Chandler, 40, pleaded guilty earlier this year to violating two suspects' civil rights. His partner, Kenneth Eugene Gailey, 32, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Sept. 22.

U.S. Atty. Jonathan S. Shapiro said that in May 1994, the two officers took turns beating a man they suspected of abusing his young daughter in an attempt to get him to confess. Joseph Valdes was beaten as he sat in an interview room at the police station in Adelanto, near Victorville in San Bernardino County.

The officers, Shapiro said, beat and kicked Valdes and twisted his limbs.

Shapiro released a audiotape and transcript of the May 1994 incident--one of the reasons why the officers pleaded guilty. On the tape, Chandler is heard telling Valdes that the "next one's going upside your head. . . . They say confession is good for the soul. Maybe God forgives, but I don't. Now, here we go. We told you."

Valdes then screams, and Chandler responds: "Torture? Torture, where the ---- do you get off saying torture?"

The two officers were also accused of the police station beating of Henry Easley. While in jail on drug-related charges, Easley reportedly spat on a fellow officer. Easley, who was then hit so hard on the head that he started to bleed, was ordered by Chandler to lick his blood off the floor, according to the federal grand jury indictment.

Chandler showed Easley a bullet and threatened to shoot him and leave his body in the desert if he reported the beating, according to court documents.

"This bullet has your name on it," court documents quoted Chandler as saying. Easley died recently in an off-road automobile accident.

Chandler and Gailey were fired from the Adelanto Police Department, but later received $65,000 each in settlements with the city as a result of wrongful termination claims.

Shapiro urged the court to give Chandler 30 months in prison, arguing that his violations of civil rights were compounded by repeated false statements.

Shapiro argued for a stiffer sentence, in part, he said because Chandler's crimes were worse than merely physical abuse. He said the former officer told lies and falsified reports that caused Valdes to spend several months in jail.

"Instances like this [of police abuse] are extremely rare, but it's important that they be punished and punished severely," Shapiro said.

But Charles A. Goldwasser, Chandler's attorney, said his client had admitted guilt and was "here to accept the punishment for what he did."

Chandler agreed.

When asked to make a comment, he apologized for his actions and said: "I'm here to take the sentence."

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