Woman’s face shattered after being launched into concrete jail cell bench

An unprovoked attack left a woman requiring facial reconstructive surgery.

Cassandra Feuerstein's shattered face required a titanium plate to be installed.  (Source: NBC Chicago)

Cassandra Feuerstein’s shattered face required a titanium plate to be installed. (Source: NBC Chicago)

SKOKIE, IL — Disturbing video evidence has been released of an incident that left a woman’s face so badly injured that she needed facial reconstructive surgery.  The woman is filing an excessive force lawsuit against Skokie police after being thrown face-first into a bench inside a jail cell, followed by alleged false statements to justify the unprovoked assault.

On March 10th, Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, of West Rogers Park, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.   After being picked up by the Skokie Police Department, she was brought back to a department jail cell for holding.

The incident, all captured on video, shows the petite 110-pound woman calmly following directions, posing no threat or aggression to her captors.  The footage — subpoenaed by Feuerstein’s lawyer — shows the woman being asked to leave the cell, and after a few brief seconds, brought back to the cell and shoved in at full force.

Feuerstein was launched into the cell by Skokie Police Officer Michael Hart.  Literally using both hands to shove her, the small woman helplessly sailed into a cement bench… face first.  The results were devastating.  He face was shattered.

As a pool of blood began to pool on the floor, officers scrambled to do something.  One officer, who Feuerstein described as “kind,” cradled her on the floor as she bled.  Her thuggish assailant, Michael Hart, did not seem the least bit remorseful and was described as “totally unapologetic” by the victim.

Cassandra Feuerstein sails through the air toward a steel bench.  (Source: Youtube)

Cassandra Feuerstein sails through the air toward a cement bench. (Source: Youtube)

“He whips her through the door and into the cell,” said Torreya Hamilton, Feuerstein’s lawyer. “There was no threat to any of the police officers. It’s clear on the video that the [behavior] was indefensible.”

Hart claimed in an official report Feuerstein was not looking at the camera while being processed, and charged her with resisting arrest while she was being brought back to the cell.

His report stated that she “knowingly resisted … in that she pulled away from (the officer) and placed both her hands on the sides of the cell door all in an attempt to not be placed into the holding cell.”

The state later dropped the resisting charge, evidently recognizing that the overwhelming video evidence would not support pursuing it further.  However, the aggressor has not been charged.

Hamilton said that Officer Hart “could be dangerous with that type of power that he has” given that he “can go from 0-60 so quickly” with a non-threatening detainee.

After he assault, Feuerstein underwent facial reconstruction surgery and now has a titanium plate in her face.  All of the teeth on the right side of her mouth are loose, confirmed her lawyer.  It is not known how much long term damage will be sustained.   Photographs show her neck, face, and chest suffered scrapes and bruises as well.

Feuerstein is going forward with a civil lawsuit because the department has not pursued charges against Officer Hart.

 

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The shocking video can be viewed below.  The voice of Torreya Hamilton can be heard narrating.


UPDATE – October 30, 2013

Due to undeniable video evidence and large public outcry, officials have decided to charge Officer Michael Hart with 2 felonies: aggravated battery and official misconduct.

“It’s a sad day when we have to announce charges against a police officer,” Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said, regretting the situation.

“When we look at the cameras from all angles, I believe we will see this woman resisted a lawful order of a police officer to get back into a holding cell,” said Jed Stone, defense attorney.


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