Prince George’s County police officer indicted after allegedly punching handcuffed suspect

The Washington Post

A Prince George’s County police officer was indicted on assault and misconduct charges Thursday amid allegations that he struck a handcuffed man seated in a police cruiser, law enforcement officials announced.

Cpl. Stephen Downey was charged with punching a man “numerous times in the face,” Prince George’s State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said. Although she did not provide extensive details about the incident, Braveboy said the alleged assault occurred in October 2018 outside a CVS pharmacy in Temple Hills.

Police received a call for service in the area of the drugstore.

“Corporal Downey encountered an individual who was placed in handcuffs in the front seat of a police cruiser, and he was secured in a seat belt,” she said. It was then, she said, that Downey assaulted the man.

Standing at her side, Prince George’s Police Chief Hank Stawinski noted that this was the second time in his administration that an officer’s alleged misconduct was reported by his peers to supervisors. That led to an internal investigation.

After the allegations “were substantiated, the department brought these matters to our state’s attorney,” Stawinski said.

“There’s a healthy culture of accountability in this institution,” he added.

Downey remains on administrative leave with pay. He was suspended after the incident, Stawinski said.

It is unclear whether Downey retained an attorney. He could not be reached for comment.

Downey is a seven-year veteran of the department, assigned to the patrol bureau.

The two charges the officer faces — second-degree assault and misconduct in office — are misdemeanors, police said.

Braveboy praised the Prince George’s County Police Department.

“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. “And I can tell you that the vast majority of men and women who serve us on the Prince George’s County Police Department serve us well and serve us with integrity.

“We will seek justice on behalf of victims in every single case, including those who have been assaulted by officers,” she added.

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