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Ex-Officer Convicted Of Videotaped Brutality To Be Sentenced

The Hartford Courant
5:24 PM EDT, September 18, 2013

A federal judge Wednesday denied a motion by former Meriden police officer Evan Cossette to throw out his conviction for using unreasonable force on a prisoner and obstructing justice in an effort to cover up his actions.

Cossette must appear before U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton for sentencing on Monday. He faces up to 27-33 months in prison.

Cossette was convicted by a jury after a four-day trial in June which centered on a videotape of Cossette pushing a handcuffed prisoner backwards into a holding cell at the police department. The prisoner, Pedro Temich, struck his head on a concrete bench and was knocked unconscious. The videotape shows Cossette entering the cell several times and moving the unconscious man around before eventually removing his handcuffs.

Cossette was issued a letter of reprimand. Federal authorities began their investigation after two police officers complained to the city manager that Evan Cossette was getting favorable treatment because his father, Jeffry Cossette, is the police chief.

The videotape was shown numerous times to the jury during the trial and Cossette testified on his own behalf, denying that he had used improper force against the much smaller Temich and testifying he felt threatened by the prisoner.

The jury deliberated for about four hours before convicting him on both counts. He resigned as a Meriden police officer within days.

Raymond Hassett, Cossette's attorney, filed the motion seeking to have the conviction thrown out, arguing that the allegations were legally insufficient under federal guidelines because "there was no fair notice that his use of force as a police officer against an arrestee was in violation of clearly established law."

But Arterton rejected the argument, writing that the videotape makes clear what occurred.

"The jurors reasonably discredited Defendant's testimony at trial that he acted in self-defense after Temich spun away from him while being placed in the cell, and instead concluded that Defendant willfully used gratuitous and unreasonable force resulting in physical injury in a situation that did not justify it,'' Arterton said.

In its sentencing memorandum, prosecutors are asking Arterton to sentence Cossette within the guidelines of 27-33 months.

"Officer Cossette's rejected testimony and his mendacity critically reflect his character and his need for rehabilitation,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul H. McConnell wrote. "We do submit that the rejected testimony of the defendant should be a powerful consideration that weighs heavily in favor of a sentence within the Guideline range"

Hassett is asking Arterton to spare Cossette jail time and instead sentence him to home confinement and community service. Hassett argues that for 26 years all Evan Cossette has wanted to do was be a police officer and now he will never be one again.

Hassett argues that penalty alone is harsher than any prison sentence and that Cossette does not need to be sentenced as a deterrent to others because his case was so highly publicized that officers all over the state are "on notice that even one push to a detained arrestee could result in federal prosecution."

"The split second decision that he made on May 1, 2010 does not define Mr. Cossette's life,'' Hassett said. "These proceedings have resulted in great anguish for Mr. Cossette as well as his family. Considering all that Mr. Cossette has undergone to date, incarceration can do no more to enforce the seriousness of this offense than these proceedings have already done."

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