WASHINGTON – Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s 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 major with the Olive Branch Police Department (OBPD) has pled guilty in federal court to conspiring with an assistant police chief to obstruct a federal investigation into a civil rights offense.
Former Major Michael Todd Fulwood, 36, pled guilty today in federal court in Oxford, Miss., to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit witness tampering.
Fulwood, along with OBPD Assistant Chief Scott Gentry and Officer Adam McHann, 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, Miss. The indictment alleged that on that date, McHann violated the young man’s 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 Adam McHann’s unjustified use of the police dog, Assistant Chief Gentry and Major Fulwood conspired to cover up the dog bite incident. As part of the plea agreement, Fulwood admitted that he and Gentry conspired to pressure the officer not to report the incident, telling him that there was a “silent code” among law enforcement officers, and that reporting the dog bite incident might end his law enforcement career.
Trial is set to begin against defendants Gentry and McHann on Feb. 11, 2008.
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.