[Hpn] 'Numerous' Police at Attack By Officers, Prosecutors Say

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Wed, 07 Feb 2001 12:05:40 -0700


http://washingtonpost.com:80/wp-dyn/articles/A36511-2001Feb7.html

'Numerous' Police at Attack By Officers, Prosecutors Say

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 7, 2001; Page B01

A large group of law enforcement officers was present the night Prince
George's County police officers set a police dog on one unarmed, unresisting
homeless man and beat another man, according to court filings by federal
prosecutors.

Despite the presence of so many officers during the incident in Takoma Park
on Sept. 21, 1995, information about the incident -- which led to the
indictment of three officers -- was not provided to the FBI until last year,
according to the filings and pretrial testimony. Authorities had not
previously disclosed that so many law enforcement officers were on the
scene.

One of the government prosecutors said during a hearing yesterday in U.S.
District Court in Greenbelt that on the night of the alleged attack, Brian
Rich -- then a Takoma Park police officer and now an FBI agent -- told a
colleague that he didn't like it that Takoma Park police had to "cover" for
county police for the unnecessary dog bite. The court papers do not say
precisely how many officers witnessed the alleged attack.

But in detailing the evidence against Rich, prosecutors said they will show
that "numerous police officers, some identified, some not, were present on
the scene of the arrests including patrol officers from both departments,
K-9 officers from both departments, detectives, supervisors, and a state
police helicopter. As one witness has stated, 'The whole world was there.' "

The document filed by prosecutors in preparation for the three officers'
trial Feb. 20 alleges that a county police sergeant asked a Takoma Park
police sergeant if a police dog could "take a bite" and that the county
sergeant said at the time that the canine was new to the force -- an
indication that he wanted to break in the dog.

Prince George's police Sgt. Anthony Delozier, 39, and county Officer
Stephanie C. Mohr, 30, both former canine officers, are charged with
conspiracy and deprivation of rights under color of law. Those charges carry
maximum penalties totaling 15 years in prison and fines of $250,000. Rich is
charged with helping cover up the attack by filing false charges against the
victims.

All three have been suspended without pay.

County police Officer James Santos has been named as an unindicted
co-conspirator. Prosecutors allege that Santos beat a second homeless man
for no reason.

Dennis Bonn, the Takoma Park police sergeant who allegedly permitted the dog
attack, has pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory after the fact
to a civil rights offense. Bonn, now retired, has agreed to testify for the
government.

Information about the large number of officers present the night of the
alleged dog attack was contained in the government's filing in opposition to
defense motions to have the Prince George's officers tried separately from
Rich.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach and Alexander H. Busansky, a
trial attorney from the Justice Department's civil rights division, said in
their filing that two trials would "exact a heavy price upon the victims and
witnesses who have to testify in both trials. Cooperating police witnesses,
who are coming forward to break the 'code of silence,' will also be
subjected to additional and needless trauma and potential harassment by two
trials."

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ruled yesterday that the three
defendants will be tried together because they are offering the same
defense.

In another victory for the prosecution, Chasanow denied a motion by Rich's
defense attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, to suppress statements Rich made to FBI
investigators in September.

Rich told FBI agents that he didn't believe Delozier and Mohr had to release
the police dog on Ricardo G. Mendez, who is now 27. Mendez required sutures
for his wound.

According to a federal indictment, Takoma Park police investigating a series
of burglaries saw Mendez and Jorge Herrera-Cruz, now 36, atop a printing
shop and called for help from Prince George's police.

The two men surrendered, descending from the roof with their hands up,
according to prosecutors. At that point, according to court papers, Delozier
asked a Takoma Park officer, "Hey, Sarge, we got a new dog here. Mind if he
takes a bite?"

Delozier then spoke with Mohr, who released the police dog, according to
court papers.

Rich, 33, allegedly charged Mendez and Herrera-Cruz with burglary despite a
lack of evidence against them. He is charged with aiding and abetting
Delozier and Mohr and being an accessory after the fact.

 2001 The Washington Post Company

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