United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announced that United States District Judge Jeffrey U. Beaverstock sentenced defendant Matthew Blaine Till, 34, a former officer of the Selma Police Department, to five years’ probation for obstruction of justice by corrupt persuasion of a witness. Till pleaded guilty to three felony obstruction-of-justice charges on September 25, 2020.
In connection with his guilty plea, Till admitted that on April 30, 2020, he used force against a citizen while on duty as a Selma police officer. On multiple occasions thereafter, Till instructed a fellow law enforcement officer not to say anything to anyone—including a federal agent—regarding a phone call Till had received from his wife shortly before the use-of-force incident. Till admitted that he gave those instructions with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a federal law enforcement officer of information relating to the possible commission of a federal civil-rights violation.
The United States recommended a custodial sentence of incarceration. The Court imposed a five-year probationary sentence. Till was not ordered to pay a fine, but the judge ordered him to pay $300 in special assessments. Additionally, as part of his plea agreement, Till will no longer be able to work in local, municipal, state or federal law enforcement, nor as a corrections officer or private security guard.
Following the Court’s pronouncement of Till’s sentence, United States Attorney Richard W. Moore said, “We have always made clear that the U.S. Attorney’s Office supports law enforcement officers and we have specifically emphasized that you do not assault those officers. It is equally true that we hold law enforcement officers to a high standard and if they violate the rights of citizens and, as in this case, obstruct justice by attempting to cover up what they have done, we will vigorously prosecute them. I appreciate the investigation done by the FBI and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office in this case. This former Selma police officer has been removed permanently from law enforcement. We recommended to the district court judge a custody sentence within the guidelines but ultimately it was the judge’s decision to put Till on probation.”
Till has pending state criminal charges in Dallas County, Alabama. On September 29, 2020, a state grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Till, charging him with second-degree assault, a felony, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, a misdemeanor, and obstructing governmental operations, a misdemeanor. An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant, of course, is presumed innocent until and unless he or she is proven guilty at trial.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Alabama Attorney General investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Justin Roller and Deborah Griffin prosecuted the federal case in coordination with the Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson, who is prosecuting the state case.