Lassiter dodges prison term

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, October 1, 2013

RALEIGH –Hertford County’s former top ranking deputy has dodged time behind bars.

Faced with the possibility of serving a 10-year prison sentence, Timothy “Tim” Lassiter was instead given four years of probation with conditions – 250 hours community service and a $100 special assessment. The order was signed Sept. 23 in Raleigh by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle.

In federal court in Elizabeth City on June 11, Lassiter pled guilty to violating the civil rights of an inmate during a court appearance one year earlier.

That incident took place on June 12, 2012 where the inmate – later identified by this newspaper as Troy Powell – created a verbal disturbance during a court appearance in Winton.  After removing the inmate from the courtroom, Lassiter, according to the U.S. Justice Department indictment, “repeatedly and unjustifiably punched the inmate in his face and body at a time when the inmate was handcuffed and posed no threat to law enforcement.”

Powell, a resident of Bertie County, was incarcerated in the Hertford County Jail at that time on charges of injury to personal property, driving while license were revoked, and two counts of resisting a public officer.

Lassiter was originally charged with assault inflicting serious injury and simple assault. However, the case blossomed from there when the U.S. Justice Department leveled charges against Lassiter for violating the civil rights of a prison inmate.

“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice works to ensure that no law enforcement officer abuses his power to assault a person in his custody,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Roy L. Austin Jr. following the indictment this past summer. “This assault by a sheriff’s deputy started in a courtroom – the very place where the constitutional rights of all Americans, including those accused of crimes, are applied and enforced on a daily basis. This plea demonstrates that the department will vigorously defend the integrity of our legal system.”

Lassiter pled guilty to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law and faced a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. However, Judge Boyle reduced that sentence to probation and community service.