MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A former Memphis police officer and his co-conspirator were indicted on three counts of civil rights violations, including robbery and kidnapping, U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant announced Monday.
The indictments are linked to a bizarre case in July in which a man was kidnapped and tortured inside a home near Reese and Appling by armed men wearing police vests. The allegations go back to 2014.
An indictment states that officer Sam Blue, along with Anthony Davis, took property from suspects in drug cases, injuring, oppressing, threatening, and intimidating them.
“Prior to the planned robberies, officer Blue would provide his civilian co-conspirators with targeting information of the victims, as well as police equipment, including an official MPD badge, and a car dashboard blue light to use during the planned robberies so that they could falsely appear to be law enforcement officers,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the two also kidnapped a victim, demanding to know the whereabouts of drugs or drug money.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Tarnished Badge Task Force.
“When police officers use their badges to violate and oppress civil rights by robbery and kidnapping, it is our duty to expose their corruption, hold them accountable, and protect society from their violence and dishonesty,” Dunavant said in a statement.
If convicted on count 1, prosecutors said the defendants each face up to life in prison, or may be sentenced to death and a $250,000 fine. On count 2, they face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine. On count 3, defendants each face up to life in prison, or may be sentenced to death and a $250,000 fine.
Because this is an ongoing federal investigation, the Memphis Police Department said it was unable to provide additional details.
Police Director Michael Rallings said the officer will have to answer for what he had done.
“These type of actions have no place on the Memphis Police Department nor in law enforcement, period. This officer chose to violate the law and the trust of our citizens. He chose to turn his back on the citizens of Memphis, his profession, and his fellow officers. Now, he will answer for what he’s done. His actions should not reflect on the 2,000 plus hardworking men and women of MPD who remain dedicated to serving and protecting the citizens of this great city,” Rallings said.
According to police, the victim in the July incident sustained second- and third-degree burns to his neck, face, legs and arms. They beat him numerous times and at one point even threatened to retrieve pliers and a saw to cut off the man’s fingers and toes.
When he yelled out in pain, the suspects reportedly burned him even more telling him not to scream again, all the while, yelling “Where is the money?”
The victim told police he eventually broke down and told them he had a storage unit located on Millbranch. He gave them the code and two of them left the home. The suspects were later caught on camera using the victim’s code to get into the unit.
The victim reportedly recognized Davis from serving prison time with him. He is listed in the Shelby County Jail on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery.
Blue joined MPD in 1995 and was relieved of duty Friday. The alleged involvement of an MPD officer was not disclosed at the time of the incident.
No one answered the door Tuesday at the Cordova address listed for Blue. A neighbor confirmed the former officer lives in the home and was stunned by the news.
So is Dewayne Johnson, who remembers the kidnapping this summer and he immediately recognized a photo of Blue.
“He used to always be parked out here, right in the front in a black car,” Johnson said. “I think it was an Impala or something. Saying he was security and we never had security over here.”
Johnson said he’s disappointed in the allegations, and hopes Blue is held accountable.
“He’s supposed to serve and protect. He ain’t protecting and serving nobody.”