A former Des Moines police officer, who was convicted in 2012 of using excessive force, has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of not returning to prison.
A jury convicted Mersed Dautovic of using excessive force during a 2008 traffic stop when he used an ASP baton to beat Octavius Bonds. The beating continued even after Bonds was restrained and possibly unconscious.
After his arrest, Bonds received staples for a head wound. Bruises covered his right thigh, buttocks and back, and both his elbow and hand were broken.
Though guidelines suggest 9 to 14 years, Dautovic was sentenced to only 20 months in prison.
The U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa successfully appealed for a stiffer sentence. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minn. ruled that the original sentence was "unreasonably lenient."
"The district court judge doesn't have to give the same exact sentence that the Court of Appeals thinks should have been issued, but it does have to be within the bounds of reasonableness," says U.S. District Attorney Nick Klinefeldt. "And we felt that this was just unreasonable."
Dautovic, who completed his prison sentence this year, has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. His attorney Keith Rigg says usually it’s the defendant, and not the government, challenging the length of a sentence.
"The sentence that Judge (John) Jarvey gave was reasonable," says Rigg. "And given all of the factors that he reviewed, he came up with what he thought was the appropriate decision and its one that we thought was in fact appropriate."
Dautovic is a Bosnian immigrant and Bonds is black. The case comes at a time when tensions between minority communities and law enforcement are particularly strained.