From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
FBI Opens Investigation Into Beating of Chapel Artist
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
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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