WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging former Fresno, Calif., Police Department (FPD) Officers Christopher Coleman, 42; Paul Van Dalen, 44; and Sean Plymale, 41; and current FPD Sergeant Michael Manfredi, 50, with civil rights and obstruction of justice offenses related to the assault of a man in their custody in October 2005.
Coleman and Van Dalen are each charged with deprivation of rights under color of law. As alleged in the indictment, Coleman used a 12-gauge shotgun to repeatedly shoot the victim with less-lethal ammunition, which consists of a flexible material that is filled with metal shot. Despite its name, less-lethal ammunition can cause death or serious bodily injury. Coleman is also charged with driving a speeding vehicle at the victim, putting him in fear for his life. The indictment further alleges that Van Dalen repeatedly kicked the victim in the side and stepped on his ankle. Plymale and Manfredi are each charged with one count of misprision of a felony for their knowing concealment of the assault carried out by Coleman and Van Dalen. All four defendants also are charged with one count of falsifying an official report to obstruct justice.
The case is being investigated by the Fresno Field Office of the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Benjamin J. Hawk of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin P. Rooney and Elana S. Landau of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.
The charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.