Monday, July 22, 2024

Police Officer in Yonkers, New York, Charged With Assaulting Man During Arrest

YONKERS, N.Y. (AP) — A supervising police officer in Yonkers, New York, was arrested and charged on Monday with assaulting a suspect following a high-speed chase three months ago, prosecutors said.

Detective Sgt. Hector Cartagena, 55, pleaded not guilty to charges including second-degree assault during his arraignment in Westchester County Court in White Plains. He was released until his next court date on July 31.

Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah’s office said that on March 14, Cartagena kicked a suspect being placed into custody four times and punched him 10 times in the face, fracturing the man’s orbital bone.

The suspect, who prosecutors did not name, had stolen a vehicle and led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash in Yonkers. He faces charges including grand larceny, assault and reckless endangerment.

Chad Seigel, a lawyer for Cartagena, said the officer’s actions were “justified and in line with established police procedure” following an incident in which multiple people were injured and lives were placed in danger.

“Rather than bringing this unwarranted prosecution, the city and county should have stood behind this highly decorated officer who has served the community without blemish for 25 years,” he said in an emailed statement. “We have every confidence that after all of the facts are brought to light in a courtroom, he’ll be fully vindicated.”

Rocah’s office said Yonkers police and their internal affairs division investigated the incident at the scene and determined Cartagena “utilized force in a manner not consistent with department policies” and immediately referred the matter to prosecutors.

The Yonkers Police Department, which shared body camera footage from the incident on its Facebook page Monday, said Cartagena has been suspended without pay.

The department added that the 24-year veteran of the police force, who was assigned to the crime scene unit, acted alone, and that all other officers on the scene followed the agency’s policies and procedures.

Yonkers Police Commissioner Christopher Sapienza said in a statement that he’s “outraged” by Cartagena’s actions.

“His actions serve to negate the great work exhibited by the other officers involved to safely apprehend the suspect at the scene,” he said in a statement. “His actions further harm our relationship with the community, which we have worked so hard to build.”

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano called the actions “indefensible,” saying they are the “very definition of disrespect for the badge.”

“This unfortunate incident should not be a reflection of the men and women who serve and protect this City with integrity every day,” he said in a statement. “This type of behavior will never be tolerated.”

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos You Should See – June 2024

The Olympic rings are seen on the Eiffel Tower Friday, June 7, 2024 in Paris. The Paris Olympics organizers mounted the rings on the Eiffel Tower on Friday as the French capital marks 50 days until the start of the Summer Games. The 95-foot-long and 43-foot-high structure of five rings, made entirely of recycled French steel, will be displayed on the south side of the 135-year-old historic landmark in central Paris, overlooking the Seine River. (AP Photo/Aurelien Morissard)

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