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Press Release

Former Plymouth Police Officer Convicted Of Using Excessive Force And Lying

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
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BOSTON - A former Plymouth police sergeant was convicted today of using excessive force on an arrestee and covering up his actions by falsifying police reports related to the incident.

After three hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Shawn Coughlin, 47, of deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law and falsifying a record to impede a federal investigation.

On Nov. 19, 2011, at the Plymouth police station, Coughlin assaulted an arrestee who was in a holding cell and handcuffed behind his back. Coughlin struck the arrestee in the head and kneed him in the body, resulting in bodily injury. Evidence at trial also established that Coughlin falsified the official police incident reports regarding the incident.

“A critical component of effective law enforcement is trust,” said US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Quality policing cannot exist if citizens can’t trust that the police who are sworn to protect them use excessive force and lie about their actions. It is very important to our entire system of justice that individuals who violate that trust are held accountable.”

“This investigation shows that the FBI, Plymouth Police and the United States Attorney’s Office places a high-priority on investigating civil rights violations including violations by those sworn to protect and serve. The FBI was proud to work with the Plymouth Police Department and the United States Attorney’s Office on this investigation to ensure that justice was served. Nothing justifies or excuses Mr. Couglin’s actions because it is never acceptable to break the law in order to enforce it,” said Vince Lisi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 20, 2014. Coughlin faces up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the civil rights conviction. Coughlin faces up to 20 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the obstruction conviction.

United States Attorney Ortiz and FBI Special Agent in Charge Lisa made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by S. Theodore Merritt and Kristina E. Barclay of Ortiz’s Civil Rights Enforcement Team.

Updated December 15, 2014