Ex-Officer Gets 14 Months In Videotaped Brutality Case
The Hartford Courant
10:55 AM EDT, September 23, 2013
NEW HAVEN –
A federal judge Monday sentenced former Meriden police officer Evan Cossette to 14 months in prison for using unreasonable force on a prisoner and obstructing justice in an effort to cover up his actions.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton sentenced Cossette to below the federal guidelines of 27-33 months. He is free on bond and has to report to prison on Dec. 3.
Arterton cited Cossette's lack of a previous criminal record and supporting letters from family and friends in issuing the sentence. She also noted that "incarceration for a police officer is always more difficult time to serve."
"Mr. Cossette," Arterton said, "one door is closing but others will open and the characteristics that your family and friends have written about can still be put to good use."
Cossette read a three-minute statement, saying he never intended to harm the prisoner he was charged with mistreating.
"I'm a good person who has always wanted to help people," said Cossette. "I am not the person portrayed at this trial."
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."
Hassett on Monday said his client was "obviously upset" at the prospect of going to jail.
"It is hard to reconcile he will have to serve time in jail when the person who was involved in this case who broke several laws never spent a day in jail," he said.
Temich was arrested in May 2010 after fighting with police who responded to a party.
In its sentencing memorandum, prosecutors asked 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 had asked Arterton to spare Cossette jail time and instead sentence him to home confinement and community service. Hassett argued 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 argued 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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