Stevenson, Ala., police Chief Daniel Winters pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal charges accusing him of deprivation of civil rights under color of law in an incident that happened in March 2015.
Winters entered the plea during an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court after he was released on bond from federal custody, according to spokeswoman Peggy Sanford with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham.
A call to Winters' attorney, Fort Payne lawyer Robert T. Ray, was not returned Thursday. Ray filed a notice in district court Monday that he was representing Winters, court records show.
The chief was indicted earlier this month on charges he and others entered a Stevenson residence and assaulted a man in connection with the burglary of a local funeral home, according to court records.
The indictment alleges Winters and others assaulted an "arrestee," and that Winters didn't stop others from assaulting the arrestee, thereby depriving him of his civil rights, records state.
The indictment did not include details of the incident, identified the victim only as "D.F.," and did not name his alleged assailants other than the chief. The civil lawsuit does, however, describe events from alleged victim David Fulmer's perspective and names the participants, according to lawsuit documents filed in U.S. District Court.
The civil suit names Winters, the city of Stevenson, Stevenson police officers Darren McCaimey and Hester Hollis, Valley Funeral Home owner Bobby Hicks and his employees, Luke Ballard and David Grider, as defendants.
In the civil case, Fulmer alleges that on March 22, 2015, Winters, other officers and the owner and employees of Valley Funeral Home mistook him for his brother, who they believed had burglarized a funeral home.
Fulmer said he'd been staying at his brother's residence for "a week or so" when Winters, other officers and the people from the funeral home "met and agreed to confront and punish the brother before reporting the matter," the suit states.
Fulmer contends the men entered his brother's home without a warrant or permission, mistook Fulmer for his brother and began attacking him. Hicks struck the first blow, knocking Fulmer unconscious, the suit states. Hicks and others then kicked and beat Fulmer as he lay on the floor.
Fulmer briefly regained consciousness but was knocked unconscious again until he came to in a police car, where one of the men "held his head back by the hair and another held a knife to his head," the suit states.
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