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ST. LOUIS – A former police officer in north St. Louis County was sentenced in federal court Wednesday after admitting to attacking a customer at a local Department of Motor Vehicles office in April 2021.

Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said Michael L. Bennett, 64, intervened in a verbal altercation between a customer and an employee at the DMV in Florissant.

Bennett, an officer at the Northwoods Police Department at the time, was off-duty. He identified himself as a police officer and gave the customer demands, leading to a verbal altercation between the two.

After the argument, Bennett grabbed the victim by the throat and punched her in the face. He kept hitting her as she stumbled backward.

Bennett yelled at the victim to leave but as she attempted to walk away, he hit her in the back of the head and knocked her to the ground.

Prosecutors said Bennett smacked the victim while she was on the ground. He also slapped her hand as she attempted to get off the floor and punched her in the face again.

In May 2022, Bennett pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of deprivation of rights under color of law. He confessed that he had deprived the victim of the right to be free from excessive force.

A U.S. District Court judge fined Bennett $10,000 for the assault and placed the former officer on supervised release for one year.