Federal Prosecutors Missing Their Victim and Complaining Witness in Fresno Police Brutality Case

Fresno, CA January 9, 2013– U.S v. Christopher Coleman, Paul Van Dalen, Sean Plymale and Mike Manfredi

The trial of began Tuesday before Judge Anthony W. Ishii in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, Fresno Division, California.

This case arises from an incident on October 10, 2005, when City of Fresno Police Officers responded to two domestic violence calls involving Rolando Celedon and his girlfriend. When Officer Van Dalen initially responded to the call, Mr. Celedon was nowhere to be found. However, Mr. Celedon came home prompting a second call by his girlfriend to police officers. When officers returned, Mr. Celedon fled leading to a short foot chase. A fight ensued where Mr. Celedon fought Officer Plymale’s police dog. Officer Plymale administered a taser on Mr. Celedon with no effect. Eventually, other officers arrived and Mr. Celedon was subdued and arrested without serious injury.

The Fresno Police Department immediately began an internal affairs investigation. The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against any of the officers. However, almost five years after the incident, the Federal Grand Jury indicted the officers for violation of Mr. Celedon’s civil rights including obstruction of justice charges. The Federal Government alleges that officers used excessive force while arresting Mr. Celedon and then falsified their reports to cover up the use of that excessive force. The officers assert that they used a reasonable, if not minimal, amount of force under the circumstances to make the arrest of Mr. Celedon. Officers contend that the arrest went by the book. While force was required to be used, Mr. Celedon sustained no serious injuries and was released from the hospital following a short examination. The officers also expressed frustration that five years after the event, the Federal Government now decides that a criminal prosecution of the officers is in order.

At the end of the first day, the lawyers were still working on jury selection. The lawyers are hoping to have a jury selected and impaneled by lunch on Wednesday, January 9, 2013. Attorney for the Officer Chris Coleman, Paul Q. Goyette, feels like he has an excellent jury who will be favorable towards law enforcement.

An important issue came up when the Government announced that the victim and complaining witness Rolando Celedon will not appear at trial. The Government contends that they cannot locate Mr. Celedon. Lawyers for the defendants will be filing a motion to dismiss the charges before Judge Ishii today. Goyette argued that “if the Federal Government can find Osama Bin Laden it certainly can find and produce for trial Rolando Celedon.”


For more information or to schedule an interview with Paul Q. Goyette, please contact the Firm Spokeswoman, Jennifer Coalson-Perez at 916-851-1900, via cell at 916-606-9992 or email [email protected]