NEW YORK - Two Suffolk County police officers seen kicking a suspect multiple times while he was handcuffed on the ground have been suspended without pay and are the subjects of a criminal investigation, authorities announced Tuesday.
Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart called the officers' actions that were recorded Feb. 23 on body camera footage "concerning" and said she was troubled that other officers at the scene did not intervene.
Hart and County Executive Steve Bellone held a news conference Tuesday to announce the suspensions and investigation by Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini’s office. Three other officers at the scene, including a supervisor, have been placed on modified duty and could also be disciplined after a hearing, they said.
"I watched that video earlier today," Bellone said. "What I saw was disturbing, unacceptable and something that cannot be condoned."
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Christopher Cruz, 30, was spotted in Port Jefferson Station, New York, driving a stolen vehicle into the parking lot of a gas station by two officers in an unmarked car, police said.
He rammed a marked patrol car that responded to the gas station, injuring the officer inside it, before driving off, police said.
Cruz lost control of the vehicle and hit a snowbank a short time later, and then rammed a second police vehicle and crashed into another snowbank, police said. He was subsequently arrested.
"While Cruz was standing up and handcuffed, a police officer pushed the arrestee forward from behind and kicked the back of his leg," Hart said. "The officer who initially pushed Cruz and one other officer kicked Cruz multiple times while he was on the ground."
Hart said the suspensions send a message to the rank and file that "we must do better."
Officials did not identify the officers.
Cruz was charged with third-degree grand larceny, second-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
He was taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries after the arrest.
Cruz is out of jail on supervised release. It was unclear if he had a lawyer.