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This Former Ky. Trooper Denied Using Force Under Oath. The Video Says He Did

Home security video from April 9, 2020. Trooper Thomas Czartowski is pictured just before striking a man with his flashlight.
Video provided by Christopher Wiest

A former Kentucky State trooper has been criminally charged with perjury after denying under oath that he beat a man with a flashlight in April 2020.

Thomas Czartorski was named in a lawsuit alleging troopers used excessive force against Alex Hornback of Shepherdsville while executing a bench warrant. 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.

A lieutenant with the Kentucky State Police accused Czartorski in a complaint filed Thursday of lying during a January deposition when he said he didn’t use any force during the arrest.

Czartorski turned himself in Friday afternoon at the courthouse on a felony charge of first-degree perjury, according to his attorney, Josh Schneider. The charge carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.

District Judge Sheila Collins converted the arrest warrant to a summons while Czartorski was in the courtroom, according to Schneider and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. That means Czartorski was not booked into jail.

Schneider said Czartorski is no longer employed by the Kentucky State Police. A KSP spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Czartorski was also a member of the Kentucky National Guard units deployed to Louisville last year in response to racial justice protests. A spokesperson for the National Guard did not respond to a request for comment.

Czartorski was deposed under oath in January for Hornback’s federal civil suit. Hornback’s attorney, Chris Wiest, asked if he struck him with an object or used any other force.

“No,” he said. “I did not use force on him.”

Later that month, Hornback’s attorney shared the family’s home security video on Facebook. The arrest warrant cited the video as evidence Czartorski committed perjury. Kentucky State Police troopers do not wear body cameras.

The video shows Czartorski and Trooper James Cameron Wright meet Hornback in the family’s basement. Hornback puts his hands on the wall, then within seconds, Wright forces him to the floor. Wright punched him with closed fists, and Czartorski beat his legs four times with a flashlight.

Wright 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 him.

Hornback appeared compliant throughout the encounter.

Court records show the KSP internal affairs department investigated Czartorski for two incidents where he used force in 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.

Alysia Santo of The Marshall Project contributed reporting.


Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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