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Four California officers indicted on civil rights charges

By Greg Morrison, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • They worked for the Fresno Police Department
  • The four allegedly used excessive force during an arrest in October 2005
  • The suspect was speeding, authorities say

(CNN) -- On the same day a California police department was getting accolades for the quick arrest of a child kidnap suspect, a federal grand jury charged one sergeant and three former officers with civil rights violations.

The four used excessive force in October 2005 during the arrest of Rolondo Celdon, who was speeding, the grand jury charged Thursday.

They worked for the Fresno Police Department.

Former officers Christopher Coleman, 42, Paul Van Dalen, 44, Sean Plymale, 41, and current officer Sgt. Michael Manfredi, 50, are named in the indictment.

The charges allege Coleman used a shotgun to fire several nonlethal rounds at Celdon. The rounds are described as flexible material filled with metal shot. The document also alleges that Van Dalen kicked the suspect and the other officers tried to cover up the incident.

Coleman, Van Dalen and Plymale no longer work for the Fresno Police Department.

"The Fresno Police Department has and will continue to cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the U.S. Attorney's Office throughout the criminal process," Police Chief Jerry Dyer said in a statement. "This investigation will not hinder the ongoing relationship that our agencies have enjoyed over the years."

Manfredi has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigations.

Plymale and Manfredi have been cited several times for bravery, Defense Attorney E. Marshall Hodgkins told CNN affiliate KFSN.

"These are people you want out on the street because they put bad people away," Hodgkins said.

The department was honored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday for helping arrest a man who allegedly abducted an 8-year-old girl this week in Fresno.