Police Officer in Prison Because Her Police Dog Bit a Robbery Suspect-Truth!

  Summary of eRumor: 
The forwarded email is an appeal for financial assistance from a former Maryland Police officer who is in prison for what she says is a wrongful conviction of her police dog biting a robbery suspect in 1995. 

The Truth:

 
This mailer is from officer Stephanie Mohr who is in prison and appealing a conviction that resulted from an incident with her police dog on 9/21/95.

According to court records, an officer was doing surveillance in an area of Prince George’s County where burglaries had been taking place. When he spotted two men on top of a building, he radioed for help and someone, in turn, asked for a K-9 (dog) unit.  Officers Stephanie Mohr and Anthony Delozier, along with a Maryland State Police helicopter, all showed up at the scene. The two suspects were arrested and charged with burglary.  The charges were later dismissed against one of them.  The other pleaded guilty.  

In 2000, the suspect whose charges had been dismissed brought action against Mohr and her partner with violating the law by “acting under color of law to willfully deprive him of his right to be free from the use of unreasonable force.”  Both were also charged with conspiracy.  In the trial Officer Mohr said that one of the suspects did not raise his hands as ordered and did not follow her orders to stop when he came down from the roof.  She says that his body motions indicated to her that he was beginning to flee in a direction where there were no officers.  She says she told him to stop then released the dog to handle it.  The result was that the suspect was bitten by the dog.  Prosecution witnesses said they remembered it differently.  The officer who originally requested the assistance, Sgt. Dennis Bonn, among others, testified that the two suspects came from the roof peacefully, with their hands in the air, and did as they were told.  He says the dog was released on the suspects as they stood cooperatively with their hands up. The jury dropped the conspiracy charge against Mohr and the violation of rights charge against her partner but could not agree on the violation of rights charge against Mohr or the conspiracy charge against her partner.  A mistrial was declared.  The second trial convicted Mohr of the violation of rights charge and cleared her partner of the conspiracy charge.  She was sentenced to 120 months in prison.

Officer Mohr says she’s been the target of zealous prosecutors who are looking for cases of civil rights violations against minorities and that some testimony against her has been stacked against her.  Critics of Mohr say she was part of a pattern of officers whose dogs had bitten cooperative suspects.

TruthOrFiction.com has confirmed with the Prince George County Police Department in Maryland that the solicitation for funds is legitimately from the Law Enforcement Officer’s Legal Defense Fund.

Last updated 1/10/06

  

 

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

    

Help Officer Mohr My name is Stephanie Mohr, and I used to be a police officer with the Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland. I’ve sent you a photograph of my little boy, Adam. It’s all I have of him right now.

Because instead of tucking Adam into bed tonight, and leaning down to give him one last butterfly kiss…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 didn’t 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 San 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 San 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!

For over two years my son has been without his mother. I think about Adam every minute. It is an unimaginable pain – maybe something only a mother can feel. I’m not there to crawl in bed with him in the middle of the night when he has a bad dream. I’m not there to wrap my arms around him when he falls down. I feel so small, helpless… and alone.

But there is one ray of hope that I am clinging to with all my heart and soul: The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF).

If you’ve heard of LELDF then you know it’s the best friend a police officer could ever have. LELDF helps defend good officers who have been unfairly prosecuted for their split-second decisions in the line of duty. They’ve helped Officer Chuck Schwarz, in New York; Officer Scott Smith, in Connecticut; and Officer Wyatt Henderson, in Florida. And it was LELDF who helped Stacey Koon when the Rodney King-sympathizers tried to throw him in jail back in 1991.

Now, with your help, the LELDF will be doing what they can to help me.

It will be an uphill battle. The appeal alone has cost upwards of $35,000. And there are legal fees for expert witnesses, legal research, and other court fees. To make things worse, I was forced to resign after my conviction, and now in prison I have no means of earning money to fund my case.

I have already missed over two years of my little boy’s life. I missed his fourth and fifth birthdays. And I can’t bear to think how many more precious moments I will miss — moments that every mother treasures but that I will never see!

That’s why I am going to swallow my pride and ask you the hardest question I’ve ever asked another person: Will you help me get home to Adam by sending a tax-deductible contribution to the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund to help them fund my appeal?

The U.S. Department of Justice has unlimited federal tax dollars to spend on their case against me. But I must rely on the generous hearts of people like you to help clear my innocent name and send me home to my son!

Any gift you can send — be it $20, $35, $50, $100, $500 — is tax-deductible. By clicking here, your tax-deductible contribution will help fund my appeal as well as help other good officers who are being unfairly attacked.

This is my last chance to gain freedom. For me, your $20 gift could be the difference between clearing my name and being there for my dear son… or spending the next eight years in prison, innocent, while Adam grows up without a mother. He will be a young man by then… almost 14. And I will have missed the years when a little boy needs his mommy the most.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my letter. Just knowing you’ve done that much gives me hope — hope that I will get home to Adam before it’s too late. With your help, Adam will never spend another Christmas without his mom by his side.

Yours truly,


Stephanie Mohr

P.S. If I can be sent to prison for doing my job, then sooner or later every police officer in this nation will be at risk. By clicking here and contributing, you can help LELDF defend those good officers. Won’t you please help me clear my name and get home to my son by supporting LELDF today? I truly appreciate any help you can spare. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!