NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An NYPD officer was on trial in Brooklyn Tuesday, accused in a notorious excessive force case that was caught on video.
As CBS2’s Steve Langford reported, Jahmeil Cuffee, 32, was allegedly resisting as police officers attempted to handcuff him in Bedford-Stuyvesant on July 23, 2014. He was being arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana.
Officer Joel Edouard was seen on video walking away as other officers took over, but Edouard suddenly returned, briefly pulled his gun, and appeared to stomp on the suspect’s head, prosecutors said.
Just short of two years later, Edouard was on trial on assault charges.
Prosecutors said Edouard’s actions amounted to “blind and uncontrollable anger” as the officer allegedly “stomped on the man’s skull.”
“No police officer could possibly believe that act to be necessary,” prosecutors said.
But the officer’s defense attorney told the court, “Some think they have a right to drink and smoke weed in public and resist arrest,” adding, “A civilian is not entitled to resist arrest.”
Gary Dormer recorded the video of the confrontation, and testified Tuesday.
“I seen an unjust situation take place right before me,” he told CBS2’s Langford outside court.
Dormer testified that other police officers at the scene that night appeared just as shocked as he was at the sight.
“They tried to stop the officer in question from continuing his force,” Dormer said.
An officer who was at the scene testified in court that he “saw a foot come up and down” without saying on which exact part of the body. But when asked, “Whose leg?” the officer responded, “Officer Edouard’s.”
After the arrest, Cuffee said he suffered scrapes, bruises and headaches. All charges against him were dismissed, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported at the time.
Both Edouard and the man he is accused of stomping on are scheduled to testify on Wednesday. A verdict from the judge in the bench trial expected Friday.
Officer Edouard could face a year in jail if found guilty.