A Chicago Police sergeant was arrested and charged Friday after he repeatedly slapped a handcuffed man across the face.
Sgt. Edward Howard Jr., 48, was charged with charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct for "commission of the offense," according to a statement released Friday by Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Howard's attorney said his client, a 24-year veteran of the force, was only trying to defend himself.
[Jeffries] attempted to spit on Sergeant Howard, and that was the reason for the strikes," said Robert Kuzas. "He has no disciplinary record. As a matter of fact, he's received several awards from the City of Chicago, from the Chicago Police Department and the community from which he lives."
The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. on Oct. 11, 2010 during the arrest of 19-year-old Gregory Jeffries.
Jeffries and two of his friends were friends were arrested in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant at 7904 S. Vincennes by two officers for criminal trespass.
According to prosecutors, Jeffries complied with the officers' orders and was handcuffed and searched. They said Howard arrived after the scene was secured, walked up to Jeffries and struck him three separate times while several officers watched.
One slap even knocked Jeffries off balance.
"It is a sad and difficult day for all of us in law enforcement when an incident such as this occurs and criminal charges are warranted," Alvarez said in the prepared statement. "This officer's senseless act against a defendant who was handcuffed and compliant constitutes a violation of that trust."
Jeffries had cuts, bruising and swelling to his upper and lower lips, and redness and swelling, he said.
He was released early in the morning following his arrest and later filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority, which turned the case over to Alvarez's office.
Howard, a sergeant in the Gresham District, was ordered held on $20,000 bond after appearing in Cook County Criminal Court on Friday afternoon. He paid $2,000 and left the criminal courts building at about 1:30 p.m.
As he left the building, a television reporter tripped and fell. It was Howard who reached down to help the reporter back to his feet. Kuzas said that behavior is more indicative of Howard's personality than the charges he now faces.
Vague details of the October 2010 were first reported shortly they occurred. At that time, then-Supt. Jody Weis declined to identify Howard or provide details on the case, but said he took immediate action.
"This type of allegation we take very, very seriously," Weis said just days later. "There's just no room for any type of brutality."
The president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mark Donahue, slammed Weis for exposing the investigation at such an early stage.
The investigation into the incident later ensnared six other officers. They were put on administrative duty and four of them finally returned to work just last week.
Two other officers, reinstated days after the incident, later sued Weis after being reprimanded because their names were included on the police report. They later proved, through GPS records, that they weren't in the area during the incident.
Sgt. Edward Howard, Photo: Chicago Sun-Times