TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A former Van Zandt County Chief Deputy pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights on Wednesday after being accused of unreasonably assaulting an arrestee.

Steven Craig Shelton was accused of depriving a person of their rights while acting under color of law in September 2021 after an incident in Wills Point.

Wednesday in court, Shelton submitted a binding plea agreement. Federal Magistrate Judge John D. Love recommended that the plea agreement be accepted by the district judge.

The binding plea agreement includes a 44-month imprisonment sentence, five-year supervised release, and requires Shelton to pay restitution to the victim and community in an amount yet to be decided.

According to court documents, Shelton “used his forearm to twice strike [the person] in the face while [they] were handcuffed.” Bodily injury was reported to have resulted from the incident. Shelton admitted to the court on Wednesday that this information was true.

Shelton posted an appearance bond of $50,000 after submitting the plea agreement and will be released until his sentencing.

A pre-trial intervention contract entered in March, required Shelton to surrender his peace officers license. This permanently made Shelton ineligible to serve in law enforcement “in any capacity requiring licensure,” according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

The district attorney in Shelton’s case at the time, resolved any potential criminal charges against Shelton at the time in regards to this incident in favor of his federal charges.

The court also identified that this case was related to separate charges for obstruction of justice against former Van Zandt Sergeant Blake Snell.

Shelton is the former Whitehouse Police Chief and had previous assault charges filed against him. Those charges were ultimately dropped after officials found the person who filed those charges lied under oath to a grand jury.

A mugshot of Steven Craig Shelton was not available.