A federal judge has moved to July the planned trial of a former Booneville police officer charged with five counts of deprivation of civil rights.
An attorney for former officer Dustin Rambo, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, is also seeking to separate one of the five counts from the other four counts charged in a motion filed recently.
Trial for Rambo is now set to begin Aug. 23 in US District Court in Greeneville. It had previously been scheduled to begin July 19.
A federal indictment filed May 7 lists five separate counts against the former officer. Counts 1 through 4, which are misdemeanors, accuse him of illegally taking property from individuals during arrests. The fifth count, a felony, accuses him of sexually assaulting a female while on duty.
Count 1 states on or around May 10, 2020, Rambo secretly removed and stole cash from a suspect’s wallet during a search. Count 2 alleges on or about June 2, 2020, Rambo secretly removed and stole cash from a suspect’s backpack during a search. Count 3 alleges on or about December 2, 2020 Rambo secretly removed and stole cash from a suspect’s wallet during a search. Count 4 alleges on or about Jan. 26, 2021, Rambo secretly removed and stole cash from a suspect during a search.
In count 5 of the indictment, the former officer is accused of grabbing a pulling a suspect into his police vehicle and driving her to a remote location where he allegedly violently forced her to perform a sex act. The alleged assault happened on or about Aug. 13, 2020.
Rambo’s attorney, Merrill K Nordstrom, argues in a motion seeking to separate the first four misdemeanor counts from the felony in count 5, that the fifth county is improperly connected to the other four because it is not similar to the other four and its inclusion could improperly prejudice the jury against his client on the other charges.
The judge overseeing the case has not yet ruled on the motion to sever.
Rambo’s employment was terminated Feb. 2 by the Booneville Board of Aldermen on the recommendation of Police Chief Michael Ramey who said at the time the termination was due to “conduct unbecoming a police officer.”