By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A former Meriden police officer convicted of using unreasonable force against a handcuffed man said he doesn’t deserve prison for a split-second decision.
Evan Cossette is seeking home confinement and community service when he is sentenced Monday in federal court in New Haven, but prosecutors say he should be sentenced within the guidelines range, or about 2 1/2 years in prison.
Cossette, the 26-year-old son of police Chief Jeffry Cossette, was convicted in June of using unreasonable force and obstructing a federal investigation by filing a false report.
Surveillance video played during the trial shows Cossette pushing Pedro Temich into a jail cell in 2010. Temich fell and hit his head on a concrete bench, suffering a significant cut and loss of consciousness, prosecutors said.
Cossette said he thought Temich was about to head-butt him. Cossette, who resigned after the verdict, testified he didn’t intend to injure Temich and was surprised he fell.
“Should one push, or one lapse in judgment result in imprisonment?” Cossette’s attorney, Raymond Hassett, wrote in court papers. “The sentencing guidelines suggest so. We respectfully submit that common sense suggests otherwise.”
Temich had severely elevated blood alcohol content that contributed to the fall, Hassett said. He submitted dozens of letters from Cossette’s supporters citing his caring nature and community involvement.
Prosecutors say the video showed Temich slowly retreating backward while Cossette moved toward him and shoved him firmly.
“A sentence between 27-33 months is reasonable and fully justifiable in light of Officer Cossette’s mendacity,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant’s identity as a police officer was used as a shield and a sword against the rule of law.”
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