Prince George’s Co. police officer gets 6 months for punching handcuffed man

A Prince George’s County, Maryland, police officer is going to jail for six months for assaulting a man who was handcuffed and placed in a patrol car.

Cpl. Stephen Downey, 32, was sentenced to five years in jail with all but six months suspended after a three-day bench trial. Once released, he’ll be placed on three years of supervised probation. He also has to complete 100 hours of community service and he was ordered to attend anger management sessions.

Downey was found guilty of assault in August.

On Oct. 29, 2018, Downey was among a group of police officers who responded to a call at a CVS store in Temple Hills, Maryland. Officers arrested a man, handcuffed the man’s hands behind him and placed him in a patrol car.

At some point after the man was placed in the patrol car, Downey punched him in the face multiple times, prosecutors said.

The man was injured badly enough that he was taken to a hospital for treatment.

A lawyer for Downey had argued that the man was agitated and aggressive, and that Downey was concerned about being butted in the head.

The man who was punched, Andre Verdier, testified at Downey’s trial. At the time, he said he thanked God and the prosecutors in the Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office.

In a statement after Downey’s sentencing on Friday, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said, “Cases like these are especially concerning because police officers are sworn to protect the public. In every case, no matter the position or status of the defendant, we will prosecute and seek justice for victims.”

At the time of the trial, Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski was asked about Downey’s status with the department. He told reporters then, “I don’t believe this person has a place in the ranks of the Prince George’s police department.”

Downey has been suspended with pay since last year and is set to go through administrative proceedings to determine his future with the department.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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