Prince George’s Officer Punched Man in Handcuffs, Prosecutors Say

"Corporal Downey punched the individual in custody numerous times in the face," the state's attorney said

A Prince George's County police officer faces criminal charges for allegedly punching a man in the face as he was restrained in handcuffs and a seat belt last fall.

Cpl. Stephen Downey was indicted Thursday on charges of assault and misconduct in office, State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Downey responded to a call for service at a CVS store in Temple Hills on Oct. 29, 2018 and encountered a man who he put in handcuffs and belted into the front seat of his squad car, Braveboy said. Then, he assaulted the man.

"Corporal Downey punched the individual in custody numerous times in the face," Braveboy said.

Downey is white and the alleged victim is black, Police Chief Hank Stawinski said. 

It wasn't immediately clear if Downey had a lawyer. He has been on the force for seven years, police said. 

Stawinski said the officer's peers reported the alleged misconduct.

"That's important to me, because it's about a healthy culture of accountability in professional policing," the chief said.

The allegation was investigated by the police department's internal affairs office, and the department then took it to the state's attorney's office. 

Downey was suspended and could lose his job.

Braveboy assured the community that the allegation would be investigated. 

"Our police officers are charged with enforcing the law, so an incident like this one is of great concern to us," she said. "The citizens of Prince George's County deserve to be protected by officers who operate with the highest degree of trust and professionalism." 

Other Prince George's officers have recently been investigated for misconduct.

In October, Officer 1st Class Ryan Macklin was arrested on charges of rape and assault. A woman who is an undocumented immigrant reported to police that Macklin pulled her over and coerced her into performing a sex act.

In November, an off-duty officer was suspended following allegations he had sex with a prostitute in his police cruiser. Also that month, an officer was suspended after two people reported that he demanded cash to overlook driving violations.

And in December, 13 Prince George’s officers accused the department of discrimination and retaliation

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.

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