Washington, DC – A former Prince George’s County police officer who spent a decade in prison for releasing a K9 on an alleged burglary suspect was pardoned by President Donald Trump on Wednesday night.
Former Prince George’s County Police Officer Stephanie Mohr, the first female K9 officer in the history of the department, was tried twice before being sentenced to 10 years in prison for the 1995 incident, the White House said in a press release.
Then-Officer Mohr was out on a burglary call when she released her K9 partner to help apprehend a fleeing suspect, WTOP reported.
The K9 latched onto the would-be escapee, resulting in a bite wound that required 10 stitches.
Prosecutors alleged the suspect was compliant and hadn’t tried to run away, USA Today reported.
But Mohr testified during one of her two trials that she repeatedly ordered the suspect to raise his hands, but that he refused and kept them near his waistband instead.
She said she released the K9 when the suspect tried to escape, as per her training.
A civil rights investigation into the incident was launched five years later, just one day before the statute of limitations would have expired, Business Insider reported.
“Officer Mohr was a highly commended member of the police force prior to her prosecution,” the White House said. “Today’s action recognizes that service and the lengthy term that Ms. Mohr served in prison.”
She served the full term of her prison sentence after being convicted on the federal civil rights violation charge in 2001, Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund (LELDF) President Jason Johnson told WTOP.
Mohr was released from prison in 2011, USA Today reported.
“This has been a long, hard slog for Stephanie Mohr, who served her complete sentence of 10 years — one year for each of the 10 stitches it took to heal the wounds on an escaping burglar’s leg,” Johnson told WTOP.
Mohr, 50, said she has been asking for a presidential pardon all year, and said she was “overwhelmed” when she was notified on Wednesday night that President Trump granted her request, WTOP reported.
“I was not expecting it,” she admitted. “I was feeling a little down and a little less than hopeful, and it was such a wonderful, wonderful surprise.”
Mohr, who is now working as a construction standards inspector for St. Mary’s County, said she has spent decades reflecting on the 1995 incident and the actions she took.
“I had to make a decision to use a certain amount of force during an arrest and that decision has had catastrophic consequences for my life and my family’s life,” she told WJLA in February.
“Over 25 years now, I’ve had plenty of time to think about what happened there is nothing I could or would do differently,” she concluded. “I’m at peace with that.”
🚨BREAKING: We applaud @realDonaldTrump for pardoning Stephanie Mohr, a former Prince George’s Co. Officer & first female canine handler in the Department’s history.
What happened to Stephanie was unjust & unfair. Thank you, President Trump, for supporting our law enforcement! pic.twitter.com/Sw10OSkSYo
— National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) (@GLFOP) December 24, 2020
Mohr noted that she doesn’t believe she would have been pardoned without the help of the LELDF and the National Fraternal Order of Police, WTOP reported.
“I have not spoken to the President, but if I could, I would say ‘thank you,’” she said. “Those words really aren’t big enough.”
The former officer’s son, 21-year-old Adam Popielarcheck, was just two years old when his mother was sent to prison, USA Today reported.
He said he is now working to become a law enforcement officer.