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An Illinois cop who was videotaped shoving a woman face-first into a jail cell bench has been charged with two felonies for the incident.
Skokie Police Officer Michael Hart, 43, was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct, both felonies. The woman he shoved suffered a fractured eye socket and had to undergo reconstructive surgery, including placement of a titanium plate in her cheek, prosecutors allege.
Here's the video clip, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, that got Hart in trouble:
As you can see, Hart is accused of "forcefully" pushing 47-year-old Cassandra Feuerstein, a DUI suspect. Feuerstein's head was slammed into an unpadded concrete bench, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Prosecutors claim Hart lost his temper because Feuerstein allegedly refused to look at a specific spot while he took her mug shot. They say Feuerstein still suffers vision and dental problems as well as numbness in her face.
An alleged battery of this nature is typically a Class 3 felony with a sentence that ranges from probation to up to five years in prison as well as fines up to $10,000.
Illinois state laws elevate a charge of battery to aggravated battery under certain circumstances. For example, conduct causing severe bodily injury, disfigurement, or a permanent disability qualifies as an aggravated battery.
A police officer like Hart can face a charge of official misconduct when he intentionally or recklessly fails to perform his legal duties or knowingly does something he knows is against the law.
In this case, the video suggests Hart intentionally or recklessly used excessive force. Specific guidelines govern what officers may do when trying to fulfill their duties. Violations of these guidelines may constitute official misconduct.
Committing official misconduct is also a Class 3 felony. Along with potential jail time and fines, a conviction warrants removal of the officer from his position.
To fend off the charges, Hart's attorney will be arguing that Feuerstein resisted a lawful order of a police officer, reports Chicago's WMAQ-TV.
Given the damning video footage, that's going to be a tough sell.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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