Saturday, January 14, 2006

Officer Stephanie Mohr

Outrage is a word that gets tossed around all too often these days. Yet, the word is truly apt in the case I am about to tell you about.

Thanks again to GOPUSA for letting me know about this case. I'm going to let Officer Mohr tell the story in her own words. (For those interested, you can make a donation to the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund here.)

My name is Stephanie Mohr, and I used to be a police officer with the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. I am sitting in a jail cell. A jail cell where I've been sentenced to spend 10 years of my life for a crime I did not commit!

Please let me explain.

I received over 25 letters of commendation and two awards during my years on the police force. But to the bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Justice, that doesn't matter. To them, I'm just a white police officer whose police dog bit an illegal immigrant on the leg in 1995.

You may have heard about my case on TV. On the night of September 21, 1995, I was on patrol with my police dog, Valk. The area I patrolled, Takoma Park, had been suffering a rash of burglaries. My partner, Sgt. Anthony Delozier, and I got a call for backup from an officer who had spotted two men on the roof of a nearby store. We knew we had likely found the perpetrators.

When we arrived, the situation was tense. The suspects, Ricardo Mendez and Herrera Cruz, had been ordered down from the roof and told to face a wall. They were shouting back and forth to each other in a stream of Spanish.

And then it happened.

Mendez made a move as if to flee the scene. In accordance with my training, I released my dog, Valk, who was trained to perform the standard bite and hold move. He did so, biting Mendez on the leg and holding him until I and the other officers could handcuff him.

Both of the suspects were charged with 4th degree burglary. Cruz pled guilty and was deported to Mexico. Mendez was convicted of illegally entering the U.S. and selling crack cocaine and was deported to [El] Salvador. As for me, I was relieved to get two dangerous drug dealers off our streets.

So imagine my shock five years later when the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would indict me for violating Ricardo Mendez's civil rights by allowing my police dog to bite his leg!

Mendez, a criminal and an illegal alien, had been fleeing the scene of a crime, and it had been my duty to release Valk and apprehend him. But the bureaucrats in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice chose to ignore the facts; they were looking for cases of police brutality, and I was exactly what they wanted: a white officer whose police dog had bitten a minority.

My fellow officers and I testified in court that I had done my job by the book. And it was true: the P.G. County police training clearly states that if a felony suspect makes a move, we are authorized to release our police dogs.

The jury agreed and voted to acquit me 11-1. And that's when things really got ugly.

Civil rights groups were furious. Everyone from Amnesty International to the NAACP declared the arrest racist and demanded further investigation. The Justice Department insisted on a second trial because of the one lone juror who had sided with the prosecution. They got it.

The second trial was a circus. The government flew in Mendez from [El] Salvador and Cruz from Mexico at taxpayer expense to testify against me. They stacked the jury with minorities who would be sympathetic to illegal immigrants. They drummed up minority witnesses who accused me of using racial epithets against them without a shred of proof!

Their strategy worked. I was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for apprehending a drug dealer!

1 comment:

Dad said...

I wonder if more to her account than meets the eye.......

Dad