Former Texas Chief Deputy pleads guilty federal civil rights offense

Police Chief Craig Shelton (Source: KLTV Staff)
Police Chief Craig Shelton (Source: KLTV Staff)
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 8:39 AM CDT
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DALLAS, Texas (KWTX) - Steven “Craig” Shelton, 61, pleaded guilty in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas to violating an arrestee’s civil rights by using excessive force against him.

During the plea hearing, Shelton admitted that on or about Sept. 21, 2021, while he was acting as the Chief Deputy and second-in-command of the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, he repeatedly struck a handcuffed and compliant arrestee in the face.

Shelton further admitted that his acts, which occurred in front of several other officers in the Rolling Oaks area of Wills Point, Texas, caused bodily injury to the arrestee. Shelton admittedly hit the arrestee out of frustration, despite knowing that there was no legitimate, law enforcement need to use force.

“Officers who use excessive force break the trust of their communities and their oath to protect and serve,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Violating the civil rights of an arrestee is a clear abuse of authority and will not be tolerated by the FBI. We are dedicated to upholding the constitutional rights of everyone and expect those in law enforcement to do the same.”

With his guilty plea and pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, the defendant faces a 44-month prison sentence.

A sentencing date will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

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