A Skokie, Ill. police officer has been charged with felony aggravated battery and official misconduct after he was captured pushing a female arrestee into a jail cell, resulting in the woman sustaining multiple serious facial injuries.
According to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, officer Michael Hart, 43, of Gurnee, Ill., "became irate" after helping with the fingerprinting and photographing of 47-year-old Cassandra Fuerstein and shoved the 110-pound Chicago woman into a concrete bench during her March 10 arrest on DUI charges, ABC Chicago reports.
Fuerstein had been disregarding Hart's commands, prosecutors say.
The attack shattered several bones in Fuerstein's face and the woman required reconstructive surgery including a titanium plate in her cheek, according to NBC Chicago. She also has had vision and dental problems since the shoving.
Video of the shoving was released earlier this month by Feuerstein's attorney, Torreya Hamilton, after Feuerstein filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer. The video prompted an outcry and over 1,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling for Hart's arrest.
Hart was ordered held on $75,000 bond and faces up to five years in prison if convicted. Hart's attorney, Jed Stone, told the Chicago Tribune his client "cannot believe after 19 years of serving Skokie that his career has come to an arrest. … I don't think pushing her into a cell is a crime."
As a result of the charges, Skokie officials have put Hart on administrative leave while they complete an internal investigation that could lead to disciplinary action, Patch reports.
Hart filed a complaint against Feuerstein after the incident for resisting a peace officer. Those charges were later dismissed after Cook County prosecutors reviewed the evidence. Feuerstein pleaded guilty to drunk driving.