This story was produced by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit newsroom by Louisville Public Media. For more, visit KyCIR.org.
A Jefferson County grand jury has indicted a former Kentucky State Police trooper for perjury after he denied under oath that he beat a man with a flashlight in April 2020.
If convicted, Thomas Czartorski faces a prison sentence of up to five years. He is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment next Monday.
Josh Schneider, Czartorski’s attorney, declined Wednesday to comment on the indictment. The Kentucky State Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The indictment charges Czartorski with one count of first-degree perjury, a felony, for making a false statement during a January court deposition when he denied using force while executing a bench warrant for Alex Hornback at his Shepherdsville home.
The lawsuit in which Czartorski testified accused him and two other troopers of using excessive force while arresting Hornback.
The lawsuit also alleged that Hornback’s parents recorded the officers beating him, and that a trooper deleted the footage. But a home security video captured the incident.
Czartorski was deposed under oath on January 18 in connection with the Hornbacks’ federal civil suit. Hornback’s attorney, Christopher Wiest, asked Czartorski if he had struck Alex Hornback with an object or used any other force.
“No,” Czartorski replied. “I did not use force on him.”
Later that month, Wiest shared the family’s home security video on Facebook along with some excerpts from Czartorski’s deposition. Czartorski resigned from the state police four days later.
The Hornbacks’ home video shows Czartorski and Trooper James Cameron Wright encountering Alex Hornback in the basement of the family’s home. Hornback put his hands against the wall, then within seconds, Wright forced him to the floor. Wright punched Hornback with his right forearm, and Czartorski beat his legs four times with a flashlight.
Wright, who has not been charged criminally, then held Hornback on the floor for about 30 seconds with his left knee on the back of his neck. A third trooper entered the room and handcuffed Hornback.
Hornback appeared compliant throughout the encounter.
Court records show the KSP internal affairs department investigated Czartorski for two incidents where he used force in March 2020, the month before Hornback’s arrest. In one incident, he kicked a suspect’s lower body while he was on the ground and numerous other officers had gained control of him. In the second, a week prior to Hornback’s arrest, he struck a man with his flashlight eight times after Wright pulled him from the car during a traffic stop — including one strike that investigators said came as the man was trying to stand up and comply.
Investigators found two violations, conduct unbecoming and excessive use of force, and suspended Czartorski.
Despite the fact that he testified under oath just two months later, Czartorski said in his sworn statement he didn’t recall the suspension.
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