Another officer testifies in FPD excessive force case

January 18, 2013 12:31:05 AM PST
Another Fresno police officer told jurors what happened during a 2005 arrest was unwarranted and excessive. Officer Beau Burger is the third officer to testify about the night a suspect wanted for domestic violence was arrested.

The federal government has indicted four current and former officers for their actions during an arrest more than seven years ago. But, the accusers aren't the suspect who the force was used against. They are other officers who witnessed the event.

Burger was riding with another officer the morning they responded to this domestic violence call in Southeast Fresno. Although, these officers did not come forward to report what happened, when they were interviewed they did say it was overboard based on the circumstances.

Burger had been a police officer less than two years, when he and Thomas Hardin pulled up to a call that's landed four other officers facing federal charges for what happened on Cedar and Dwight in Southeast Fresno. The officers called to testify by the government all agreed.

"Boiling it down, he felt that the amount of force used by officers Coleman and Van Dalen was excessive," Paul Goyette said. "So, in that regard, his testimony was similar to that in some degree of officers Hardin and Overbeek."

The first week of trial has centered on what happened the night Celedon was arrested. Before he was handcuffed three officers testified he was kicked and shot with a bean bag gun even though he was not resisting arrest or challenging officers.

The officers on trial are also facing allegations they tried to cover up what happened following the incident, by changing their police reports and even planting evidence at the scene.

Marshall Hodgkins is representing Sean Plymale in this trial, but represented Sergeant Michael Manfredi several years ago after he was fired over this incident but fought to get his job back and won.

Prosecutors said Manfredi began immediately questioning who was the rat who turned him and other officers in.

"He can spot a felony a mile away and if he sees something that isn't right, he wants to know what's going on in his department," Marshall Hodgkins said. "That's all he did. Did he lie or intimidate anybody? No."

Manfredi wasn't the only one fired, all four defendants lost their job, and that's exactly what the man at the center of this wanted, when Action News tracked Celedon down after his arrest.

"Even if they don't go to jail, I think they should all be fired."

Celedon was deported to Mexico and has been unable to be contacted for trial. FBI agents looking for him said Mexican liaisons won't help locate him since he is a witness and not a fugitive.

Celdon did end up serving 5 1/2 months in jail after he was charged with stalking. Defense attorneys say they plan to call the defendants as witnesses sometime next week.


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