Officer gets 40 months after beating 60-year-old man in wheelchair

(RAW STORY)   A Chicago police officer has been sentenced to 40 months in federal prison for beating a 60 year old man who was handcuffed and shackled to a hospital emergency room wheelchair.

Randy Miles had been brought in drunk and with stab wounds when Officer William Cozzi was called to investigate. In an attack that was caught on videotape, Cozzi shackled Miles and hit him eleven times with a sap. Cozzi then claimed that Miles had attacked him and even had him charged with resisting arrest before the existence of the videotape became known.

The sentence comes amid growing tensions between Chicago PoliceSuperintendent Judy Weis — a former FBI official who was brought in following a series of police scandals — and rank and file police officers, many of whom were outraged at the verdict. The attack took place in 2005, and Cozzi had already pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge in county court and had served 18 months on probation when Weis referred the case to the FBI for civil rights violations. Cozzi is white and the victim is black.

Cozzi’s defense attorney, Terrence Gillespie, blamed Weis after the verdict for bringing a “misguided and vindictive” prosecution. “I’ve got a message for all those fine officers in blue out there,” Gillespie stated angrily. “Affter 15 years on the job, don’t snap. You’ll get thrown under the bus, and it’ll be a federal bus and it’ll be by your own superintendent.”

Cozzi will now lose not only his job but also his pension. Prior to the incident, he had served on the force for 15 years with no complaints of brutality. In his guilty plea, he claimed, “I let my frustrations get the best of me and made a terrible mistake in judgment.” However, the judge ruled that the beating was not spontaneous but deliberate.

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told reporters, “We will back up police officers who do reasonable things under the circumstances, but at the same time, everyone needs to understand … that when people cross the line and assault someone and then lie about it, that has to be addressed too.”


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