Officer Who Allegedly Abused Cassandra Feuerstein Formally Charged [Video]
Skokie, IL – A police officer has been officially charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct after shocking surveillance footage showed that he apparently pushed a female inmate into a bench, breaking several bones in her face.
Officer Michael Hart, 43, was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday while the authorities continue to investigate. “I have no comment,” he said as he left a court appearance on Wednesday. He was released on a $75,000 bond, reports ABC.
The video of the incident was circulated widely online. It shows Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, being violently shoved into an unpadded bench at jail. She was arrested for DUI, and Officer Hart, though not her arresting officer, was part of the booking process. He reportedly “became irate” with Feuerstein when she refused to look into a specific camera lens.
Regardless, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said that Officer Hart’s actions were excessive and unnecessary. “When they [police officers] lose control and they step over the line, it’s unfortunate when we come to this point but criminal charges clearly were warranted in this incident.”
Feuerstein’s lawyer said that her client suffered fractured bones in her face which required reconstructive surgery. Additionally, the injury caused her dental and vision problems.
“All the bones in her face were broken. She had to have facial reconstruction. There is a titanium cheekbone,” attorney Torri Hamilton said. “It’s something that is going to affect her for the rest of her life.”
Still, Officer Hart’s attorneys will make the argument that Feuerstein had resisted a lawful booking process.
“When we look at the cameras from all angles, I believe we will see this woman resisted a lawful order of a police officer to get back into a holding cell,” said defense attorney Jed Stone.
Stone also said that Hart has a clean record with no previous allegations of misconduct. He has served as a full-time police officer since 1994, reports the Chicago Tribune.
“Put that against the backdrop of a 19-year career police officer with an unblemished record, and explain to me why he’s being prosecuted,” Stone said. “This is a good officer. The law says police can use reasonable force to get someone to comply with a reasonable direction.”
“He’s served the community with honor and distinction and he’s a good cop. He deserves to be treated thoughtfully and fairly by this process,” Stone continued.
Skokie authorities have not commented extensively on the issue and are waiting for the results of their investigation. Mayor George Van Dusen released a statement, which read: “It is every officer’s duty to treat members of the public professionally and respectfully.”
Cassandra Feuerstein pleaded guilty to the DUI. She has filed a civil lawsuit against Officer Hart. Check out the graphic video of Feuerstein being shoved into a bench below: