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Press Release

Former Hancock County, West Virginia, sheriff deputy charged with use of excessive force

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of West Virginia

WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA – A former Hancock County, West Virginia, Sheriff’s Deputy has been charged with using excessive force against an arrestee, United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced.

Mark A. Cowden, 51, of Weirton, WV, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of “Deprivation of Rights” and one count of “Obstruction of Justice – Falsification of Document.”  Cowden is alleged to have used excessive force during an arrest in January of 2015 and to have falsified a document in an attempt to justify his use of force.

Cowden faces up to ten years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for the deprivation of rights charge and up to twenty years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 for the obstruction charge.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jarod J. Douglas and Department of Justice Civil Rights Trial Attorney Nicholas Murphy are handling the case on behalf of the government. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating.
An indictment is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated June 22, 2016

Civil Rights