ATTORNEY

Prince George's Officer Sentenced to 6 Months for Punching Handcuffed Man

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

A Prince George's County police officer was sentenced to six months in jail Friday for repeatedly punching a man in the face as he was restrained in handcuffs and a seat belt last year. 

Cpl. Stephen Downey was sentenced after being convicted in August of assault and misconduct in office for the October 2018 beating of Andre Verdier. 

The maximum for the assault charges alone was 10 years. 

Downey responded to a call for service at a CVS store in Temple Hills on Oct. 29, 2018. He encountered Verdier, who police said was homeless and sleeping inside a shipping container in the drug store's parking lot.

Downey put Verdier in handcuffs and belted him into the front seat of his squad car, State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy said. 

Then, Downey assaulted Verdier.

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

Verdier suffered bruises and a head contusion, prosecutors said.

Previously, Verdier thanked prosecutors. 

"I was glad to be helpful to this case, and everything was accurate and true," he said at a news conference. 

The defense argued that Downey, who spent eight years on the police force, felt threatened by Verdier even though he was restrained. Downey said he thought Verdier was going to headbutt him. 

Police Chief Hank Stawinski previously 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. 

Braveboy said this spring that county residents deserve good officers. 

"The citizens of Prince George's County deserve to be protected by officers who operate with the highest degree of trust and professionalism," she said. 

Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story. 

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