On November 6, 2012, the Department of Justice announced that a former police officer with the Navajo Police Department (NPD) was sentenced to four years by a federal court for an incident that occurred on January 25, 2009. The former police officer’s name is Lawrence Etsitty. He pleaded guilty earlier in the year and admitted to violating a woman’s civil rights as she was handcuffed.
Court documents indicate that Etsitty arrested the female victim outside of the Fire Rock Casino in Churchrock, New Mexico around 2:40 a.m. on January 25, 2009. He handcuffed the victim, put her in the backseat of his squad car, and drove her to an isolated part of the desert. Etsitty then opened the back door the squad car and pulled the victim toward him with force. He proceeded to grope the victim while she struggled to get away from his touching, kissing, and groping.
The victim asked Etsitty to take her home and he eventually agreed to drop her off. He dropped the victim off at a parking lot near her home and she ran away.
Etsitty was questioned by the FBI on January 27, 2009, and he made false statements about the violation of civil rights. He later wrote the victim a letter and apologized for the groping and kissing her and stated the violations should have never happened. He received 54 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and he cannot act in a law enforcement capacity ever again.
The Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Thomas E. Perez, stated, “We commend the courage of the victim in coming forward and speaking out about this terrible crime. The Department of Justice and the Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute these crimes.”
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation