From the Worldwide Faith News archives

FBI Opens Investigation Into Beating of Chapel Artist

Date 04 May 1996 20:40:50


95465    FBI Opens Investigation Into Beating of Chapel Artist 
                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has begun 
investigating the police beating of the New Mexico artist who carved the 
doors to the chapel of the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Ky. 
     Federico Armijo of Cubero, N.M., was beaten and then abandoned by 
police last July while in Louisville to oversee installation of the 
chapel's wooden doors.  He was treated and released at a nearby hospital 
after a passerby called for an ambulance. 
     Two officers were temporarily suspended without pay by the Louisville 
Police Department after an internal investigation determined that the 
officer accused of beating Armijo used excessive force. Both officers were 
disciplined for neglect of duty. 
     "The FBI has opened an investigation into the matter," said Ken Bowes 
of the Louisville FBI Office.  He said civil rights cases are routinely 
investigated by the FBI, particularly those involving police brutality. 
     Bowes said the case could "possibly result" in federal prosecution of 
the police officers. 
     Armijo told the Presbyterian News Service he is "very, very pleased" 
the FBI decided to investigate his case further on civil rights grounds. 
The 49-year-old woodworker is resuming what he describes as "light-duty" 
work, like sanding furniture, though he still has numbness in two fingers 
on his left hand. 
     "I can't survive without doing something," he said, adding that his 
doctor cautions him about overuse of his hand.  "But I'm trying to take it 
real easy." 
     A Vietnam veteran who has struggled with post traumatic stress 
syndrome, Armijo said the beating triggered more flashbacks and slowed down 
the creative work that has helped him recover from the war.  He began 
carving as an 11-year-old Boy Scout, but art took on more significance 
after Vietnam, he said.  "It's a way for me to give back ... for some of 
the things I did in Vietnam.  Making beautiful things, things people enjoy. 
     "I know those [chapel] doors are loved by many, many wonderful people. 
Now, they'll be a part of me and I'll be a part of them," he said. 
     Armijo and the police officers disagree on what happened at the scene 
of the beating. 
     One of Armijo's Louisville attorneys says lawyers are still gathering 
information in preparation for a meeting with city officials.  Attorney 
Larry Simon says they will know within the month whether the case will be 
resolved informally or with litigation. 
     Officer Gary Alcorn received a 15-day suspension; and probation 
officer Rebecca Corbett got five days' suspension. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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