Police Officer Convicted Of Police Brutality Freed After 8 1/2 Years

Stephanie Mohr police brutalityStephanie Mohr always wanted to be a police officer. But she was forced to change her plans, after a charge of police brutality sent her to a West Virginia prison for 8½ years. As a newly free woman, Mohr insisted on her innocence in an interview with Washington, D.C., television station WTTG, and hopes to one day buy a home close to her son.

In the early 1990s, Mohr became the first female police officer in the K-9 unit of the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland. "I knew that I had to work harder than the average male to make my way, but I accepted that and I welcomed that," Mohr told the Fox affiliate.

After a string of burglaries in Takoma Park, the police set up surveillance and spotted two men on the roof of a store. Mohr and her partner were called in for backup. They ordered the men to get on the ground and show their hands.

But Mohr claims that one of the men's body movements suggested that he was about to flee. She said that in following protocol she released her dog, Valk, for a "bite and hold" move, to immobilize the man until he could be handcuffed. The dog, as trained, bit into the man's calf, tearing his muscle.

The man, Ricardo Mendez, a homeless undocumented immigrant, didn't file a complaint, and Mohr's commanders signed off on the report. Mendez was ultimately convicted of selling crack cocaine and was deported to El Salvador. The other suspect, Herrera Cruz, pled guilty and was deported to Mexico.

"As for me, I was relieved to get two dangerous drug dealers off our streets," Mohr wrote after her first two years in jail, in a mailer asking for donations to fund her appeal.

But Mohr's version of how events played out didn't match the account of several witnesses. The officer who originally called for assistance, Sgt. Dennis Bonn, claims that the two men cooperated fully, climbing down from the roof with their hands in the air, and were peacefully standing there when the dog was released.

Five years later, and a day before the statute of limitations expired, Mohr was charged with harming Mendez by "acting under color of law to willfully deprive him of his right to be free from the use of unreasonable force," as well as one charge of conspiracy.

The jury acquitted Mohr on the second charge, but was hung on the first. When she was tried again, she was found guilty, and under then-mandatory sentencing laws, was sentenced to prison for 10 years. There has been no parole in the federal system since the mid-1980s, and convicted individuals must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences.

At the time of her sentence, she thought of her young son. "I'm trying to imagine leaving him for 10 years, how I'm going to do that," she told the TV station, "how he is going to survive and what impact this will have on my family and my friends."

In the ensuing years, Mohr's son traveled the 5½ hours to West Virginia federal prison every two weeks, and then once a month, to visit his mother.

Mohr believes politics had a role in her conviction. The U.S. Department of Justice was looking to prosecute cases in which minorities suffered civil rights abuses, she claims. A white officer, who could be found guilty of police brutality against a Hispanic immigrant, fit the bill.

"The federal government was desperate to make a case against a Prince George's County Police officer," Mohr says. "After years and years of investigating, the only person they were able to indict and try was me."

Although the outcome of the case was a personal tragedy for Mohr, prosecutors argue that justice was served. "We need to understand the difficult circumstances that police officers face," the federal prosecutor told WTTG. "At the same time, we have to understand that a crime is a crime and nobody, especially the people who enforce the law, can be above the law."

"I did what I was told to do," Mohr still contends. "I did what I was trained to do. I did what I was expected to do."

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Patti Clarke

the government was the only bully in this case, and sadly, this is not an isolated incident. it is the government, its judicial system, prosecution, judges who are way out of control and should be reigned in. I have had the pleasure of meeting Stephanie and wish her the best.

January 06 2014 at 9:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Master Damon....Most likely the reason why you hate cops is because you're in trouble most of the time and see them often. Cops lives are put on the line each and everyday.

August 13 2013 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

you people just don't know P.G. police dept her actions were just par for the course. I wish she could have got more time. i cant stand the police where i live montgomery/PG county invade our nieghborhoods and make them police states

August 13 2013 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big Pedal

What is the female Bubba? Hope she got some!!!! And a felony so she can't shoot back now. AWESOME!!!

November 24 2012 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kate Gallagher

i like seeing bad cops go to jail, this one is a big liar, she says different things than ALL the witnesses, I believe her pants are on fire.

August 11 2012 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Some of these comments show only a very partial understanding of what this officer did. She made life more difficult, not only for the suspects she abused, but for her fellow officers, who have to overcome the stigma of her actions. For a more complete understanding of the facts, read the following: http://www.yasni.com/ext.php?url=http%3A%2F2Farticles2Fmohr_appeal.pdf&name=Stephanie+Troyan+Mohr&cat=filter&showads=1
This officer took her badge and weapon and abused it. She deserved everything she received.

March 16 2012 at 11:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to subro2's comment

No, she did not. She became a sacrificial lamb of the Justice Department.

September 28 2012 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As stated before, every one hates the cops until they are needed. People assume that cops have nothing better to do than pick random people to harass and beat during the shift. Start considering everything cops sacrifice to ensure you and your loved ones are safe. This guy will continue to sell drugs, he has probably made it back across the border and gets to enjoy spending time with family at holidays. Meanwhile, this officers son had holidays and important milestones without a mother. It is very easy for people to "armchair quarterback" the performance of this officers duties. Has anyone given the thought that any counter behavior from the suspect could have changed the dynamics to the hold the dog had on his leg? And if someone breaks into your house, don't call the cops just fix them something nice to eat, or maybe offer them some help on loading up your property just make sure you don't in any way cause them harm or distress.

March 15 2012 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jo78's comment
Master Damon

yes i hate cops.i have never called a cop for help if someone breaks into my house they will get shot.look at the **** they do how can you trust a cop.you can't

August 13 2013 at 11:10 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Actually if someone broke into my house and I felt threatened I would shoot them. I don't hate cops, I just don't like them. I've had contact with cops, some bad, some good. No different than with any other person doing their job. Problem is that I can walk away when I'm having a problem with an individual and a I can't when I'm being "PIGGED" by a cop who's having a bad day and wants to take it out on me. What I find amazing is that more cops aren't being prosecuted for this kind of behavior. There's a case going on right now here in Arizona where a cop shot a guy and his dog over a domestic dispute call. His partner is the prime witness for the prosecutor. Said the cop was out of control. So it happens, a lot more than you'd think. And as far as the armchair quarterbacks, your guilty of that yourself. This cop had lawyers who work with these prosecutors everyday. No way they would have gone after this cop without cause. And if you read this article or followed this case you would know that it wasn't about the dog causing the injury, it was about the cop releasing the dog for no reason. You hear about how cops have to make split second decisions, well that's what they're trained and paid for. I feel for this cop because it seems like she was given a longer sentence than what would have been expected. Again, there must have been a reason. By the way, you sound like a cop, a wanabe or a member of a cop's family.

August 13 2013 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you listen to most perpetrators of assault there excuses are quite similar to this one. It's sort of like a thief statement "I didn't mean to steal the loaf of bread, I was planning on paying for it, besides, the bread was stale anyway". I feel for her. She claims not to have "meant to do harm" cemeteries are full of murder victims who's killers didn't mean to "hit them so hard" or "my intent was not to kill" where do we draw the line? We are supposed to forgive her because she's a good person "inside". Well, even hitler loved dogs.

March 13 2012 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kris's comment

sorry "their" not "there" I know better :(

March 13 2012 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ther is no honor in brutalizing another human being.

March 12 2012 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm contacting everyone I can to help this Officer

March 10 2012 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jamesbond007691's comment
Big Pedal

Shes already a liar cant help that. She has to make the change.

November 24 2012 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe you can get Miss Moneypenny to help her

August 13 2013 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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