Commissioner: 2 Suffolk police officers suspended after footage shows man getting pushed, kicked
Two Suffolk County police officers have been suspended and four others have been placed on modified duty after officers were captured on bodycam video pushing and kicking a suspect, according to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
Hart says the incident took place on Feb. 23.
According to Hart, the incident occurred following attempts to arrest a man who they say stole a vehicle in Port Jefferson Station. Officers in an unmarked vehicle saw the vehicle, a Jeep, pulling into a parking lot. Officers in a marked vehicle arrived moments later, Hart says.
Hart says the Jeep and a police vehicle collided, leading to a pursuit that ended with the suspect's vehicle crashing into a snowbank in Mount Sinai. Following another attempt to get away, the suspect crashed into another police vehicle, tried to get away again and crashed into another snowbank once more.
The arrest was captured on a responding officer's body camera, Hart says. While the suspect, Christopher Cruz, was standing up and handcuffed, a police officer pushed Cruz from behind and kicked the back of his leg, according to Hart. The commissioner says that officer and another then kicked Cruz multiple times while he was on the ground.
Hart says Cruz went to a hospital, but ended up declining medical treatment.
Hart said the actions of the two officers were "unacceptable" but said that the other officers not intervening was also unacceptable.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone confirmed that the matter is now in the hands of the district attorney and has led to a criminal investigation.
Bellone said the incident was "disturbing, unacceptable and something that cannot be condoned."
Hart's office was notified of the video on Thursday, leading to an investigation that led to actions that were taken Tuesday.
She says actions like this aren't reflective of "the vast majority" of their police officers, but says it serves as a message to the department that they "must do better."
Cruz, 30, is currently out on supervised release, Hart says. He had been charged with grand larceny, assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest.