Stephanie Mohr, one of 29 individuals who were pardoned or granted clemency, was the first female canine handler for the Prince George’s County Police Department in 1995.
Mohr, her canine partner Valk and several other officers had responded to a breaking and entering call after which she said one of the two suspects had tried to run.
Mohr released Valk, who bit the suspect in the calf. The man later needed 10 stitches.
Though Mohr says neither the department nor the suspect took issue with her conduct at the time, five years later she was indicted by the Justice Department for civil rights violations pertaining to the arrest.
Mohr and her training officer were tried twice after a jury was initially unable to reach a verdict on the charges.
During the second trial, the government allegedly painted Mohr as a problematic officer. And though Mohr was convicted, her training officer was acquitted.
In 2008, she sought to have her sentence commuted but was unsuccessful. Mohr was eventually released from prison in 2011.
Now 50, she works in construction for St. Mary’s County government.
In a statement announcing the pardon, the White House wrote that “Officer Mohr was a highly commended member of the police force prior to her prosecution.”
“Today’s action recognizes that service and the lengthy term that Ms. Mohr served in prison,” the White House said, noting that her clemency is supported by the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and the Fraternal Order of Police.
It remains unclear whether the Justice Department recommended Mohr for a pardon.
In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Mohr said Thursday that the 25-year-long saga had been “very, very difficult” and that the government had “punished” her for doing her job.
“There was definitely an agenda of the times and I was made a scapegoat,” she said.
Mohr called the Justice Department “overreaching and a bit overzealous” but noted the president’s decision “restores [her] faith a bit in the justice system.”
She said getting the call on Wednesday night was one of the greatest moments of her life.”
“It’s one of the best Christmas gifts I could have ever hoped for,” Mohr stated.