PLYMOUTH (CBS) — A former Plymouth police sergeant was convicted Wednesday of using excessive force on a man he was arresting and then falsifying the police report to cover it up.

After three hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Shawn Coughlin, 47, of deprivation of constitutional rights under color of law and falsifying a record to impede a federal investigation.

Coughlin was found guilty of striking an arrestee in the head and kneeing him in the body while he was in a holding cell with his hands handcuffed behind his back, in November 2011.

The man had been arrested for drunken driving.

“A critical component of effective law enforcement is trust,” said US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “Quality policing cannot exist if citizens can’t trust that the police who are sworn to protect them use excessive force and lie about their actions. It is very important to our entire system of justice that individuals who violate that trust are held accountable.”

Sentencing is scheduled for May 20. Coughlin faces up to 10 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the civil rights conviction.


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