Plymouth sergeant indicted for use of excessive force

Allegations stem from a reported incident in November 2011

BOSTON - A Plymouth police sergeant has been indicted on charges of use of excessive force in federal court. 45-year-old Shawn Coughlin of Plymouth has been charged with deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law and falsifying a record to impede a federal investigation.

According to an FBI release, while a sergeant with the Plymouth Police Department, Coughlin is alleged to have assaulted an arrestee who was in a holding cell with his hands cuffed behind his back on November 19, 2011.  Coughlin is alleged to have struck the arrestee in the head and kneed him in the body, resulting in bodily injury.

In addition to excessive force charges, Coughlin is charged with covering up his alleged actions and falsifying police reports.

It is alleged that Coughlin falsely stated in a police report that the arrestee "continued to resist by attempting to kick at the officers present...while still screaming obscenities and various threats." Striking and kneeing the arrestee was allegedly omitted from the police report.

If convicted, Coughlin faces up to 10 years in prison on the civil rights violation and up to 20 years on the falsifying reports charge. Both charges also carry a fine of $250,000 each and three years of supervised release following the prison sentence.

The charges against Coughlin were announced Tuesday by US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers of the Boston Field Office.

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