News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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March 10, 2014

UPDATE: Indictment alleges deputy committed violence against suspects

TERRE HAUTE — A Putnam County deputy, Terry Joe “T.J.” Smith, 37, has been arrested on a federal indictment charging him with committing violent acts against suspects.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett and Robert A. Jones, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, gave details on the indictment today at an afternoon news conference in the federal courthouse at Terre Haute.

The federal indictment, which was unsealed this morning, charges Smith with four counts of federal civil rights violations. Smith is accused of using excessive force against people on four occasions in his capacity as a Putnam County sheriff’s deputy. These incidents occurred near Moore’s Bar in Greencastle, on West Stardust Road in Cloverdale, at the Lazy Acres trailer park in Greencastle, and at the Cloverdale Truck Stop.

Allegations detailed in the indictment include: using a Taser against an individual who was restrained; punching a person in the face after restraint; throwing a person on the ground after the individual had been handcuffed, driving a knee into the person’s back while secured, handcuffed and prone on the ground; and throwing a female to the floor and forcing her outside a truckstop, placing her face down into lava rocks in below-freezing temperatures without proper clothing, and holding her down for an extended period of time.

Upon conviction, Smith could be sentenced to up to 10 years in federal prison for each count, and could also face significant fines and federal supervision for up to three years once he has served his prison term.

See Tuesday’s Tribune-Star and revisit for more details.

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