Defense attorneys have filed motions to dismiss police brutality charges against former Fresno Police officers. The victim and key witness, Rolondo Celdon, is in Mexico and can't be found. Prosecutors say he likely won't be able to testify in the trial. Defense attorneys say because of that, the charges must be dismissed.
“It's our position that the government is responsible for that. They didn't want him as a witness because he's got exculpatory helpful evidence for our clients. There are issues he directly spoke about where he was in dispute with some of the other witnesses,” said Paul Van Dalen’s attorney, Harry Stern.
Christopher Coleman and Paul Van Dalen are accused of using excessive force. Prosecutors say back in 2005, the pair punched and kicked Celdon during a domestic dispute call. They say Coleman also shot at Celdon with a "less-than-lethal" shotgun and even tried hitting him with a car. Michael Manfredi and Sean Plymale are accused of concealing the alleged assault and writing false reports. After Celdon's arrest, he was deported to Mexico. Prosecutors say they now can't find him. Coleman's attorney says Celdon's disappearance is unacceptable.
“All the investigators have been in touch with Mr. Celadon on and off for years. And this trial date has been set well over a year. And all of a sudden last minute they can't locate him and they can't find him? He's a key witness in this case. We think it's highly suspicious,” said Coleman’s attorney, Paul Goyette.
Prosecutors say even if Celdon is located it is ultimately his choice to testify. They say they can’t subpoena Celdon because he's living in Mexico.
The judge will consider the motions to dismiss the charges, Wednesday. The trial is expected to start on Thursday, in which a number of officers and former officers will testify.