A former officer with the Homer Police Department has pled guilty in Shreveport Federal Court to violating the civil rights of a woman identified only as K.M.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta and U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley say 66-year-old Willie Fred Knowles also pled guilty to making false statements about the incident to the FBI.

According to the plea agreement, Knowles admitted that on October 29, 2012, he got into a verbal argument with K.M., who was not under arrest at the time, while he was on duty.

He also admitted that during the argument, he pushed her down and struck her face and body without justification. Knowles also said he falsely told FBI agents that the woman started the incident by grabbing him and jumping on his back, and that he never hit her. He later acknowledged that he had started the altercation.

"Without any legitimate reason or cause, this officer chose to use violent force against the victim and then lie to try to cover up his crime," said Gupta. "Whenever law enforcement officers break the law they take an oath to uphold, they violate the public trust and threaten the reputation of their colleagues who wear the badge and perform their jobs with honor and distinction."

"This officer's actions tarnish the reputations and standards upheld by thousands who work in law enforcement across our nation," Finley said. "Our office will continue to make civil rights cases a priority."

Knowles will be sentenced November 9. He faces a maximum of five years in jail for making false statements to the FBI and one year for the civil rights charge.