A Meriden police officer charged with police brutality entered a not guilty plea on both federal charges during his arraignment Tuesday.
Officials said Officer Evan Cossette, 25, can be seen on surveillance video pushing a suspect into a jail cell, causing the prisoner, Pedro Temich, to hit his head on a cement bench and go unconscious. Temich was under the influence at the time, police said.
Cossette is seen moving him in a video obtained by Eyewitness News, but never called for help. The action left Temich with a deep cut on his head.
According to arrest papers, Cossette said Temich "invaded my personal space and I became fearful that he would again attempt to engage me in a physical altercation and possibly headbutt me."
He also acknowledged since the prisoner was handcuffed he probably could have used another method to control him.
The U.S. Attorney's Office claimed that Cossette made a false statement and used unreasonable force. The U.S. Attorney's Office said Cossette failed to help him right away and then tried to hide what really happened on reports.
After the video was seen, two other police officers, Brian Sullivan and Donald Huston, complained because they felt he received special treatment after being investigated for excessive force because he is the chief's son.
The complaint said Cossette was given a letter of reprimand and ordered to take four hours of training.
An investigator by the city of Meriden cleared Cossette of any wrongdoing, but a U.S. attorney has indicted him for unreasonable force and for making false statements.
Cossette is the son of Meriden's police chief, who was not present at the arraignment.
Cossette was released on a $75,000 bond, which was fronted by his parents and him.
After court, Eyewitness News asked Cossette if he wanted to say something to the community he served and he said, "Happy Thanksgiving."
Some Meriden residents showed up at Cossette's first court appearance Tuesday.
"If there is any sort of corruption or nepotism at this level of our government that we put people in to trust, then it needs to be brought to light," said Jeffrey Nowlin of Meriden
The criminal charges against Cossette carry up to 20 years in prison.
Cossette is expected back in court in January.
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