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Ex-Atlanta cop gets 5 years for beating man wrongly accused of stealing tomato

May 7 (UPI) — A former Atlanta police officer was sentenced to five years in federal prison on Monday for beating a man he wrongly suspected of stealing a tomato.

Trevor King, 50, was a sergeant with the Atlanta Police Department on Oct. 13, 2014, when he was working off-duty as a security guard at Walmart in downtown Atlanta. That day, Tyrone Carnegay purchased groceries at the Walmart but thought he might have been overcharged for a tomato.

Carnegay went back to the produce aisle to weigh the tomato before putting it back in his shopping bag. When Carnegay attempted to leave the store, King stopped him, drew his baton and accused him of stealing the tomato.

“Within seconds of the stop, King began to strike Carnegay on his legs with the metal baton,” federal prosecutors said. “After several blows, Carnegay fell to the floor. As he lay on the floor, King delivered a final baton strike, causing a compound fracture to Carnegay’s leg. After the assault, King found a receipt in Carnegay’s pocket for the groceries he had purchased, including the tomato.”

King then wrote a false police report to justify his assault of Carnegay. In that report, King said Carnegay tried to push past King and then reached for his gun belt.

After receiving surgery to repair his broken leg, Carnegay spent several days in jail before the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges against him.

A jury found King guilty on Dec. 8, of using excessive force and obstructing an investigation. U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones handed down the sentence on Monday.

“King was punished today for willfully violating the Constitution by misusing his power to violently assault and injure an innocent man,” said U. S. Attorney Byung J. Pak. “King’s egregious misconduct is an affront to law enforcement officers who serve honorably and uphold their oath of office with integrity.”

Carnegay praised Jones’ decision to impose a five-year sentence on King.

“He got what he deserved,” Carnegay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He did me wrong.”

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