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Settlement after Connecticut Police Chief’s Son Assaults Handcuffed Prisoner

by Ed Lyon

On May 1, 2010, Pedro Temich was arrested in Meriden, Connecticut. He was taken to jail, where video cameras recorded officer Evan Cossette pushing Temich, who was handcuffed and not resisting. Temich fell, hitting the back of his head on a concrete bench.

Cossette then entered the cell several times, placing the unconscious Temich in different poses instead of providing medical assistance, which he was able to do as a first responder. He removed the handcuffs from Temich before EMTs arrived. Temich was later treated for a skull fracture; it took 12 staples to close his scalp laceration.

During an internal affairs probe, Sgt. Leonard Caponigro found no evidence in the video footage to substantiate Cossette’s claim that Temich, who is 5’1” tall, was preparing to head-butt the 6’1” tall officer, or that Tamich was combative at any time. Caponigro’s report concluded that Cossette had violated the department’s use of force policy.

On August 31, 2010, Deputy Police Chief Timothy Topulos issued Cossette a letter of reprimand on a lesser charge. Cossette’s father was Meriden’s police chief at the time.

Federal prosecutors charged Cossette for his use of force against Temich and with obstructing a federal investigation for filing a false report concerning the incident. Cossette remained employed with the Meriden police department until 2013, when he was convicted and sentenced to 14 months in federal prison. His conviction was later affirmed by the Second Circuit.

“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,” the appellate court wrote. See: United States v. Cossette, 593 Fed.Appx. 28 (2d Cir. 2014).

Meanwhile, Temich had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Cossette, the city and city officials in 2011, and the case finally settled in November 2017. The terms of the settlement were not made public. See: Temich v. Cossette, U.S.D.C. (D. Conn.), Case No. 3:11-cv-00958-DJS. 

Additional sources: Associated Press, Hartford Courant


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Related legal cases

Temich v. Cossette

United States v. Cossette