BROOKLYN — An NYPD officer who was found guilty of stomping on a suspect’s head was sentenced to two years of probation on Thursday and ordered to quit the force by a judge.
Joel Edouard, 38, was working out of Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 81st Precinct on July 23, 2014 when he and his partner saw Jahmi-El Cuffee drinking on the sidewalk and in possession of what appeared to be marijuana, prosecutors said.
Cuffee resisted arrest and more officers arrived on the scene to assist Edouard and his partner, the court heard.
The incident was captured on video, on which police can be seen trying to handcuff Cuffee as Edouard pulls out his gun and points it at the suspect.
The officer later stomped on the suspect’s head while he was on the ground.
During sentencing Thursday, Judge Alan Marrus said Edouard abused his authority during the scuffle and that the incident was a “setback” for police and community relations.
However, Cuffee stated that he believed he received justice when the officer was found guilty of misdemeanor assault, according to the judge, who added that Cuffee also received a civil settlement close to $100,000.
“I don’t see any need to incarcerate the defendant to see justice in this case,” Marrus said.
“There is clearly a need, however, for people in the community to know that courts take these matters seriously and that the defendant’s actions will not be tolerated.
“Because police officers, no matter what the situation, cannot afford to lose their temper and act in a violent fashion.”
Edouard was sentenced to two years probation with a special condition that he be fired as a police officer within 24 hours or submit his resignation, Marrus said.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thursday that the officer's employment will be terminated since he was found guilty, and that he supported the court's findings on the punishment.
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson previously recommended Edouard spend 60 days in jail with two years’ probation.
“This police officer intentionally and needlessly stomped on the head of a suspect who had already been restrained by fellow officers. And he did so in broad daylight and in front of a crowd of people,” Thompson said in a statement.
“He deserved to spend time in jail for committing such a blatant act of police brutality, but we accept the sentence imposed by the court.”
Standing before the judge Thursday, Edouard, a nine-year NYPD veteran, said that he had “learned a lot” over the past two years.
“I’m not a violent person,” he said. “It was an unfortunate incident, a very regretful incident.”
His attorney, Anthony Ricco, had asked for community service and urged the judge before sentencing to look at Edouard as an individual and his past record as an officer when considering jail time.
“In about 30 seconds, he lost his temper, and his temper got the better side of him…His emotions got the better side of him, and it cost him, it cost him everything that he worked for in his life,” Ricco said.
“I don’t think there’s a person in the world who would disagree with the statement that police officers are there to protect the public, they certainly are. But the police officers that serve, they’re not machines, they’re not a robot, and some of them make mistakes. And he made a mistake, and that mistake is going to cost him.”
Following the sentencing, Ricco said he was happy the judge did not impose a custodial sentence and that the “defendant will follow any lawful order of the court.”