Four Fresno cops indicted on excessive force charges
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Three former Fresno Police Officers and a current sergeant are now under federal indictment in connection with the violent arrest of a man five years. The officers are accused of violating the suspect's civil rights.
In October of 2005, Rolando Celdon appeared in a Fresno courtroom on charges he broke into his ex-girlfriend's Southeast Fresno apartment and assaulted her.
Fast forward nearly five years later ... and the officers who arrested him are now the ones accused.
This federal indictment alleges Christopher Coleman fired numerous non-lethal rounds at Celdon and drove a speeding vehicle at him without justification. Paul Van Dalen is accused of repeatedly kicking and stepping on the victim. Sean Plymale and Michael Manfredi are accused of covering up the excessive force.
Plymale and Manfredi's attorney says the allegations are baseless. "I have been in contact with the U.S. Attorney's Office in an attempt to cooperate with them and tell them this is all wrong," said Defense Attorney Marshall Hodgkins.
All four men have been previously investigated and were all let go from the department. Plymale was now works for the Madera Police Department. Manfredi fought for his job back ... and won.
Hodgkins adds, "Both Manfredi and Plymale went through arbitrations involving their job and two different arbitrators heard 13 days of testimony and independent of each other, they ruled that both Manfredi and Plymel did absolutely nothing wrong"
In a statement to Action News, Chief Jerry Dyer said in part: "The Fresno Police Department has and will continue to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's Office throughout the criminal process."
Action News legal analyst Tony Capozzi says while the indictment is unique ... the case will be difficult to prove. "They're not easy cases for the government to prove, it's a tough case and you're indicting police officers. That makes it difficult for the government to convince a jury that these police officers did something wrong."
All four men are accused of obstruction of justice and other charges. The charges carry a prison sentence between 20 and 30 years. The four men will appear in federal court Tuesday.
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