WASHINGTON Ė Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Departmentís Civil Rights Division, together with Jim M. Greenlee, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, and Frederick T. Brink, Special Agent in Charge of the Jackson, Miss., Division of the FBI, announced today that a former assistant chief of police and a former police officer with the Olive Branch Police Department (OBPD) have both pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from a civil rights investigation. Adam McHann, a former canine officer, pleaded guilty to using excessive force and violating the civil rights of an arrestee, and Scott Gentry, the former assistant chief, pleaded guilty to conspiring with another OBPD supervisor to obstruct a federal investigation into a civil rights offense.
McHann, 37, and Gentry, 38, pleaded guilty in federal court in Oxford, Mississippi. The two defendants, along with former OBPD Major Michael Todd Fulwood, had been indicted by a federal grand jury for crimes stemming from the physical abuse of a young man arrested on March 8, 2003, in Olive Branch. The indictment alleged that on that date, McHann violated the young manís civil rights by repeatedly ordering a police dog to bite and maul him. The indictment further alleged that when another police officer attempted to file a complaint about Officer McHannís unjustified use of the police dog, Assistant Chief Gentry and Major Fulwood conspired to cover up the dog bite incident. Fulwood previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct the federal civil rights investigation.
As part of todayís plea agreements, McHann admitted that he had no legal justification for releasing his canine on the arrestee, and Gentry admitted that he conspired with Fulwood to pressure another officer not to report McHannís unjustified use of the canine.
The Civil Rights Division is committed to the vigorous enforcement of every federal criminal civil rights statute, such as those laws that prohibit the willful use of excessive force or other acts of misconduct by law enforcement officials. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Criminal Section convicted the highest number of defendants in its history, surpassing the record previously set in Fiscal Year 2006. The Division has compiled a significant record on criminal civil rights law enforcement prosecutions. During the last seven years, the Criminal Section obtained convictions of 53 percent more defendants (391 v. 256) in color of law cases than the previous seven years.
This case was investigated by special agents from the Jackson Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gerard Hogan and Trial Attorney Evan Rikhye of the Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Coleman.