NYPD officer dodges jail for stomping on man’s head, adds to ‘not uncommon’ cop crime stats
A New York Police Department officer has avoided hard time at notorious Rikers Island prison for stomping on a head of a handcuffed man despite cries for help. Aside from two years’ probation, the cop is required to resign within 24 hours.
“This police officer intentionally and needlessly stomped on the head of a suspect who had already been restrained by fellow officers,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said at the sentencing Thursday. “And he did so in broad daylight and in front of a crowd of people.”
In April, Joel Edouard, 38, was found guilty after an amateur video showed him and other police officers arresting Jahmiel Cuffee in the summer of 2014. It was Edouard who, during the attempted arrest, pointed a gun at Cuffee and then kicked him in the head, despite bystanders yelling that he was being recorded.
Cuffee suffered scrapes and bumps, a contusion, dizziness, headaches and nausea.
At first he was charged with attempting to tamper with evidence, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. As charges were dropped for Cuffee, Edouard found himself under investigation.
“He deserved to spend time in jail for committing such a blatant act of police brutality, but we accept the sentence imposed by the court,” Thompson said.
The DA initially recommended sentencing Edouard to 60 days in Rikers Island prison and an additional two years’ probation.
However, Judge Alan Marrus imposed only a part of the recommendation, explaining that he saw no “need to incarcerate” Edouard because “the victim recovered and was compensated through civil judgement," according to the New York Daily News.
Marrus agreed with two years’ probation and also ordered Edouard, who has been on modified assignment, to resign by his own choice.
“If the [Police] Commissioner doesn't terminate the defendant in 24 hours, the defendant must turn in a letter of resignation," said Marrus, calling the case “a setback for police community relations.”
‘Police crimes not uncommon’
Since the 2014 police killing of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, law enforcement agencies across the US have seen community relations significantly sour.
Michael Brown's death at the hands of white officer Darren Wilson touched off mass demonstrations in Ferguson and across the US against racial profiling, police brutality, police impunity and the judicial system in America.
A recent study by Bowling Green State University titled ‘Police integrity lost: a study of law enforcement officers arrested’ has not enhanced that reputation of police officers nationwide.
It revealed that US police officers get arrested about 1,100 times a year, meaning that roughly three cops are charged every day. The data covers 2,529 state and local law enforcement agencies from 1,205 counties and independent cities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“The first general observation is that police crimes are not uncommon,” the study said. “Police officers get arrested for crimes with some regularity in jurisdictions around the nation.”
Between 2005 and 2011, the period the study covered, the number of arrest cases jumped from 444 to 1,238. In seven years, there were 6,724 criminal cases launched, leading to the arrest of 5,545 individual police officers.
“These cases threaten to undermine public trust in both the authority and legitimacy of state and local law enforcement organizations, and the work of law-abiding sworn officers who go about their job selflessly, efficiently, and professionally every day,” the study read.
The government-funded study reflects a broad range of offenses committed by police, which are commonly related to sex, drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and extortion.
Nearly 60 percent of those crimes “occurred when the officer was technically off-duty,” lead researcher Philip M. Stinson wrote.
At the same time, he explained, “a significant portion of these so-called off-duty crimes also lies within the context of police work and the perpetrator’s role as a police officer, including instances where off-duty officers flash a badge, an official weapon, or otherwise use their power, authority, and the respect afforded to them as a means to commit crime.”