Former Fresno Police Officer Found Innocent in 2005 Excessive Force Incident
Rains Lucia Stern, PC, 02/12/14
Fresno Federal Courthouse – Today a jury, under the direction of the Honorable Anthony Ishii, found former Fresno police officer Paul Van Dalen innocent of 2005 charges of excessive force and obstruction of justice – making this the most significant police officer exoneration in recent Fresno history.
“During the trial we successfully proved that the force used by this police officer was proper and caused no injuries to the suspect,” said Harry Stern, partner at Rains Lucia Stern, PC, a law firm specializing in successful defense of law enforcement officers in communities throughout California.
In 2005, Fresno police officer Van Dalen was the back-up officer to arrive on the scene of a fleeing suspect after breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, beating her, and threatening to kill her in front of her young child.
Even though a K-9 police dog clung to his leg, the suspect continued fleeing officers, not responding to verbal or non-lethal attempts to take him into custody. Van Dalen, the only officer to take action, kicked the suspect, enabling him to handcuff and bring him into custody.
“We specialize in winning complicated cases like Officer Van Dalen’s – whose job was to bring the suspect into custody, “Stern said.
The first trial to clear Van Dalen from charges of excessive force and obstruction of justice ended in January 2013 in a mistrial with 10 of the 12 jurors voting to acquit Van Dalen. After the Federal government’s decision to continue to pursue the case, a new trial began January 8 of this year.
Through extensive preparation, pointed cross-examination and thorough arguments, Stern was able to mount a successful defense that proved that excessive force was not used, resulting in Van Dalen’s exoneration. He also proved to the jury that Van Dalen’s police report was accurate in describing the suspect’s violent actions, even though it was not officially submitted by Van Dalen before he was removed from duty.