From: The Fresno Bee
Pablo Lopez 02/12/14
A Fresno police sergeant and three former officers were found not guilty in federal court Wednesday on charges of police brutality and obstruction of justice.
Jurors deliberated 10 hours over two days before rendering a verdict in the federal criminal case to determine whether Sgt. Michael Manfredi and officers Paul Van Dalen, Chris Coleman and Sean Plymale used excessive force while arresting Rolando Celdon in October 2005 and then tried to cover it up.
It was the second time the four defendants had stood trial in U.S. District Court in Fresno on civil-rights violations and obstruction-of-justice charges in connection with the Oct. 10, 2005, arrest of Celdon.
In their first trial, a different jury in February last year said they were hopelessly deadlocked 9-3 to find them not guilty of any crimes. That first jury came to its conclusion after listening to five weeks of testimony, but deliberating only four hours.
Celdon, who is from Mexico, didn’t testify in either trial.
Another witness who didn’t testify in the second trial is Celdon’s former girlfriend, Veronica Rivera, whose frantic 911 call led to his arrest. She told police that Celdon had broken into her southeast Fresno apartment and assaulted her in front of her young child.
Rivera testified in the first trial. She died recently, lawyers said.
The Celdon case is the latest in a series involving the Fresno Police Department and allegations that it uses excessive force when tangling with suspects.