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Desert Hot Springs officer convicted of civil rights charge

February 17, 2012 |  7:52 pm

An officer with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department was convicted Friday of federal civil rights violations for using excessive force against two people in custody in 2005, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.

The jury deliberated for less than half a day before returning a guilty verdict against Anthony Sclafani, 42, who was accused of two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law for pepper spraying and firing his Taser at two suspects being held in the department’s jail.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors alleged in court papers that Sclafani fired his Taser at the stomach of one handcuffed suspect, who had been arrested for a parole violation and for being under the influence of marijuana. The next day, when a female suspect banged on her cell door, Sclafani responded by pepper spraying her in the face and eyes, then fired his Taser at her at least three times, prosecutors contended.

Attorneys for Sclafani could not be reached for comment.

Sclafani was indicted in 2010 along with a former officer of the department, David Raymond Henderson. Henderson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor civil rights count and was sentenced last year to a year's probation.

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-- Victoria Kim

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