An NYPD officer who was caught on camera stomping on a suspect’s head was found guilty of misdemeanor assault in New York State Supreme Court Thursday. Joel Edouard may face time in prison for the crime.
In July 2014, cell phone footage circulated the internet showing Edouard and several other officers in Bed Stuy arresting a man named Jahmi-El Cuffee, who was allegedly smoking weed in public. At one point in the video, while Cuffee is restrained on the ground, Edouard can be seen swiftly kicking the side of his head. The video surfaced less than a month after the NYPD killing of Eric Garner, and the conspicuous timing meant the incident faced more scrutiny than it otherwise might have. Edouard was immediately placed on modified duty and later charged criminally.
Edouard’s attorneys, the New York Post reports, took the unusual tactic of arguing that photos of Cuffee taken after the incident had been photoshopped to to show injuries that didn’t actually exist. The judge in the officer’s bench trial was unconvinced. “He let down his fellow officers by losing his composure. He gratuitously stomped on the head of Jahmi-El Cuffee...Prosecutors proved there was physical injury,” Judge Alan Marrus said when delivering the verdict.
Edouard’s assault charge carries a minimum sentence of probation and a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He will be sentenced in June.