An Illinois officer who severely injured a woman after shoving her into a cell has been charged. The incident was caught on prison surveillance. The victim had originally filed a lawsuit against the officer, but now the case is also criminal. Michael Hart, 43, was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. His bond was set at $75,000, which he posted. Cassandra Feuerstein had been arrested on suspicion of a DUI, which she admitted to, but in a civil rights lawsuit she says that the officer shoved her into a concrete bench and it was excessive.
The push broke several bones and she had surgery to place a titanium plate in her face. Prosecutors say that Hart was on duty assisting in fingerprinting and photographing. During the booking process, Hart became “irate” after Feuerstein disregarded his comment to look in a certain direction for the booking photo. When she disobeyed him several times, he grabbed her and pulled her towards an open detention cell. At the entrance, Feuerstein attempted to grab the doorframe and regain her balance. She also requested another chance at the photograph. At that point, Hart pushed her with both hands into the cell.
According to prosecutors, the force of the shove propelled her into the cell causing her face and head to slam into the concrete bench. The face impact left her orbital bone fractured, loosened some of her teeth, and put a deep cut into her cheek. The orbital fracture required reconstructive surgery during which a titanium plate was inserted. She also suffered vision and dental problems.
The officer then filed a false report claiming she resisted officers. She was charged with resisting, but prosecutors dismissed the charges based upon the surveillance video. “Apparently I was not looking into the camera the way the officer wanted me to,” Feuerstein said in her lawsuit.
If convicted Hart faces a sentence of anywhere between probation to 5 years in prison. Hart has been stripped of his police powers and placed on paid leave.