In May, 2010, Evan Cossette, a former Meriden police officer, pushed a handcuffed and helpless prisoner Pedro Temich backwards into a concrete bench, knocking him unconscious. That was bad enough, but what Officer Cossette did thereafter was not only bad, but adjudged criminal. Convicted after a four-day trial and sentenced to a 14-month federal prison sentence, he appealed, but the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence.
Unfortunately for Cossette, the whole incident was captured on the police department’s holding cell security camera, which clearly showed that that the officer used excessive force. It then showed that he removed the unconscious man’s handcuffs, and propped him up against the bench as the EMT’s arrived.
The district court judge, Janet Bond Arterton, stated that he seemed to be “setting up a rag doll on the video…The video that depicts these events shows a gratuitous show of force that appears to say ‘take that.’” She then went on to note that Cossette made a false incident report: “The offense made thereafter following the split second judgment decision-the purposeful distortion of the police report to justify the use of force-makes it all the worse.”
Records showed that there was no internal police investigation of the matter for several months, when the officer was finally reprimanded. Only after other police officers complained to federal authorities that Cossette had gotten favorable treatment, because his father is police chief, were charges for assault finally brought and the officer prosecuted and convicted.
The Second Circuit rejected the officer’s appeal, stating that “Cossette was charged with using force without provocation or need, specifically, with ‘assaulting’ a detainee who was already ‘handcuffed’ in a ‘holding cell’, and most important, ‘compliant’ with police.. (He) does not, and cannot, contend that he lacked fair notice that gratuitously assaulting a detainee, without provocation or need, constituted an unreasonable use of force.”
See: “Federal Appeals Court Upholds Former Meriden Police Officer’s Conviction,” Hartford Courant, 2014.
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