Former Kentucky Sheriff’s Deputy Sentenced for Abusing Arrestees

June 23, 2024

A former Kentucky sheriff’s deputy was sentenced today to 110 months in prison for violating the constitutional rights of multiple people he arrested during his tenure as a law enforcement officer.

Former Boyle County Sheriff’s Deputy Tanner M. Abbott, 31, was convicted by a federal jury in March of five felonies and one misdemeanor related to using excessive force against four arrestees, performing an illegal search and writing and conspiring to write false police reports to cover up his abuse.

“This defendant habitually and routinely abused his authority and used his badge to shield himself from accountability for years,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence should send a loud message that such abuses by law enforcement will not be tolerated. The Justice Department is steadfast in its commitment to hold law enforcement accountable when they violate the civil and constitutional rights of people in their country.”

“Instead of protecting and serving the community, the defendant was physically abusing people — even bragging about the injuries he caused,” said U.S. Attorney Carlton S. Shier IV for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “That is not law enforcement; that is brazen criminal conduct. The community deserved better. Fortunately, he now has a criminal sentence that he deserves.”

At the sentencing hearing, the government presented evidence that the crimes for which Abbott was convicted were part of a larger pattern of abuse of authority spanning his career. An investigator testified that, during its two-year investigation of numerous allegations against Abbott, the FBI discovered evidence that Abbott frequently used excessive force against suspects. This evidence included text messages recovered from Abbott’s work-issued cell phone in which Abbott bragged, sometimes in graphic and vulgar terms, about causing injuries to people he had arrested. The government also presented cell phone evidence showing that Abbott sometimes took photographs of injuries he had caused and sent the photographs to friends and acquaintances, but never included or submitted them in official police documents. Two additional witnesses testified that they had been physically abused by Abbott while being arrested.

The court also found that Abbott obstructed justice during his trial by testifying falsely in his own defense.

The FBI Louisville Field Office investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Dembo for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Alec Ward of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.