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Former sheriff’s deputy found guilty

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Former Louisville Police Department officer came to the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office. He was terminated on May 26, 2015, for an incident on Oct. 22, 2014. The five-member sheriff’s merit board affirmed the termination of Matthew Corder after a three-hour hearing in July 2015. The case was then considered by the FBI and forthcoming charges.

By Thomas Barr

 LOUISVILLE -- A Bullitt County sheriff’s deputy who was fired for his actions during an October 2014 incident has now been found guilty of abusing his authority by retaliating against a civilian.

Matthew Corder, who was terminated in 2015, was convicted last week by a federal jury of two counts of willfully depriving a Bullitt County resident of his constitutional rights under the color of the law.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights division, and U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn Jr. of the Western District of Kentucky, announced the decision.

The evidence presented at trial established that Corder, of Louisville,  abused his authority as a sworn law enforcement officer by retaliating against a Bullitt County resident who insulted him.

Corder unlawfully entered the man’s home, tased him in the back, arrested him without probable cause and charged him with crimes that he did not commit, causing the man sit in jail for weeks and lose his job.

The charges against the victim, disorderly conduct and fleeing and evading, were eventually dismissed.

That was the same evidence presented to the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office merit board members last summer. The merit board affirmed sheriff David Greenwell’s decision to fire Corder on May 26, 2015.

“This deputy abused his authority, neglected the law and harmed a resident he swore an oath to protect,” said Gupta. ”No insult justifies depriving the victim of his constitutional rights, and anytime law enforcement officers act like Corder did here, they do a disservice to the vast majority of their colleagues who safeguard our communities with fidelity, professionalism and distinction.The Justice Department will work tirelessly to bring to justice any member of law enforcement who breaks the law by using excessive force."

"Every day, thousands of law enforcement officials have thousands of respectful, appropriate, lawful interactions with individuals," said U.S. Attorney Kuhn. "We all appreciate these dedicated guardians for keeping us safe in our homes and in our communities. But in those rare instances when a police officer violates his foremost duty to obey the law and adhere to the limits imposed by our Constitution, the Department of Justice will vigorously work to hold that officer accountable. Today our efforts culminated in a unanimous jury verdict finding that former Deputy Sheriff Corder victimized an individual by making an unconstitutional arrest and bringing unconstitutional charges. The Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to protect all individuals and communities from unlawful police conduct wherever and whenever it occurs."

The four-day trial included testimony from the victim, the victim's sister and the other officer on scene, which corroborated the victim's account. The instructors from the police academy who trained Corder also testified to the fact that he knew what the law permits and knew that his conduct violated the victim's constitutional rights. Evidence included Corder's false arrest report as well as body-camera footage of the arrest.

No one testified at the merit board hearing.

The testimony was that Corder had been called to the Whispering Oaks manufactured housing community on a suspicious vehicle. He parked his cruiser in front of the victim’s home. 

Upset that Corder parked his car while responding to an incident several homes away, the victim allegedly began to curse at the deputy.

Corder ordered the man to come out of his home but the victim refused. Corder told the merit board that he felt the man was disorderly and he tasered him twice.

The man was then jailed and charged; however, the charges were dismissed in Bullitt District Court.

The allegations were sent by the sheriff’s office to the FBI, which led to the recent jury findings.

Corder, 52, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the first charge and one year of imprisonment on the second charge. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 17, 2016, before U.S. District Judge David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky.

This case was investigated by the FBI's Louisville Division, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Gregory of the Western District of Kentucky and Trial Attorney Christopher Perras of the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section.