NYPD Officer Charged in Head Stomp Assault
Officer Joel Edouard faces up to one year in jail for using excessive force
A New York City police officer has been indicted for stomping on the head of a Brooklyn man in police custody after a video recording of the incident emerged.
Officer Joel Edouard was charged with one count of assault, one count of attempted assault, and one count of official misconduct. He faces up to one year in jail.
Edouard and his partner stopped Jahmiel Cuffee on a sidewalk on July 23 for allegedly holding a joint. In the video, Edouard is seen with his partner grappling with Cuffee as they attempt to bring him to the ground and cuff him. Pinned beneath the officers, one of whom has a hand on his throat, Cuffee pleads, "Help me. Help me."
As a crowd gathers to film the arrest and a third officer shows up to assist, Edouard briefly walk away from the scene as if to cool off; however, he returns within seconds and stomps Cuffee's head into the ground.
Cuffee reportedly suffered abrasions and headaches from the assault. The charges against him have been dropped.
All three men are black. Edouard's assault charges come after a spate of high-profile police brutality cases ended in non-indictment of majority-white officers who killed unarmed black men and women, including incidents that were caught on film, such as the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York and the shooting of John Crawford in Utah.
"Police officers put their lives on the line every day to keep up all safe," Brooklyn district attorney Kenneth Thompson said in a statement following the indictment. "However, this defendant allegedly stomped on the head of a suspect as he lay on the ground, which is unacceptable for a police officer."
Cuffee's assault came less than a week after Garner was killed by NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Thompson has previously said that he is not afraid of prosecuting police officers for using excessive force. In December, he said, "Acts of police brutality are not only crimes against the individual victim but also are attacks on the communities in which they occur."
The New York Daily News reports that Edouard is "the third cop indicted in as many months by Brooklyn prosecutors."
Thompson's office is currently investigating at least six other such cases, as well as the fatal police shooting of Akai Gurley, who was killed on November 20 when an NYPD officer fired a gun up an unlit stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. Gurley, who was standing in the stairwell at the time, was hit in the chest; officer Peter Liang, who shot him, sent a text message to his union representative asking for advice before calling for an ambulance.