Monday, January 26, 2009

Former Olive Branch police officer cleared in dog-bite case

What kind of officer feels the need to order a dog to acquire a suspect in a routine traffic stop when the "suspect" is a KID?!

A former Olive Branch police officer who had withdrawn a guilty plea on a civil rights violation case was acquitted on that charge Friday following a trial in Oxford.

Adam McHann, the former handler of police dog Marco, was charged with violating the civil rights of a 17-year-old boy in 2003 when he ordered the dog to "acquire" the suspect.

The boy, who had run from the scene after a traffic stop, was bitten twice by the dog.

Former patrolman Greg Wallace raised questions with his superior officers about the propriety of using a police dog on a juvenile offender who was involved only with traffic offenses.

Former Asst. Chief Scott Gentry and former Maj. Todd Fulwood talked with Wallace, defending McHann's actions although neither Gentry nor Fulwood had been at the scene.

Wallace taped his conversations with Gentry and Fulwood. He resigned the next day and turned his tapes over to the FBI.

Gentry pleaded guilty Feb. 5, 2008, to conspiring to tamper with a witness and McHann pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation under the law the same day.

Fulwood pleaded guilty Jan. 31, 2008, to conspiracy to tampering with a witness.

Last May, McHann asked for permission to withdraw his guilty plea and U.S. Dist. Judge Michael Mills allowed him to do so.

McHann's trial on the charge began Tuesday.

The jury deliberated only 30 minutes Friday morning before returning a not-guilty verdict against McHann.

Neither McHann nor his attorney were available for comment.

Meanwhile, the law enforcement careers of Gentry and Fulwood are over.

The cases against all three officers were handled by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in Washington and not by the U.S. attorney's office in Oxford.

McHann was represented by Christy McCoy.

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