Kicking a man on his hands and knees cost former Minneapolis police officer Christopher Reiter his career -- and then his freedom.
Last May, Minneapolis Police received a call from a woman reporting a domestic assault. When officers arrived at her apartment, she named Mohamed Osman as the man who attacked her. Police promptly found him sitting in a car outside, and ordered him to get out and get on the ground. He obeyed peaceably.
But while Osman was down on his hands and knees, Reiter walked up and delivered a kick to his face, crushing his nose. Osman collapsed, bleeding and unconscious. He was eventually diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.
Three other Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene later confirmed that Reiter had no reason to use such force. He was charged with assault, and found guilty in October.
"All Minneapolitans, including police officers, agree this conduct is not acceptable," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman at the time. "You don’t kick a guy on his knees, in the face, especially when he wasn’t doing anything.”
On Tuesday afternoon when Reiter appeared back in court, he faced up near-certain jail time. The prosecution requested 180 days.
Reiter's attorney, Robert Fowler, asked the judge for mercy, comparing Reiter's case with that of his victim, Osman.
The two were convicted of the same crime -- third degree assault -- yet Osman was sentenced to just 75 days in jail after brutally beating and strangling his girlfriend over the course of about 45 minutes before leaving her in a pool of blood, Fowler said. In contrast, Reiter delivered a single kick to Osman, and rendered aid immediately.
Reiter wasn't in the right state of mind at the time of the assault, the attorney went on. He had just completed chemotherapy, and should have taken a leave of absence. Instead, he continued to work in order to provide for his family.
Fowler argued that Reiter had already suffered enough, since he has lost his job, has experienced public shame, and still faces a lawsuit. Fowler asked for a sentence of 60 days in jail.
"I would like to take responsibility for what I did," Reiter said in a brief statement prior to sentencing. "I because a police officer to help people, not hurt them ... With hindsight, that never would have happened."
Judge Fred Karasov was unmoved.
He admonished Reiter for his suspicious testimony during the trial, when he claimed to have seen Osman carrying a knife, though a knife was never mentioned in any of the responding officers' reports.
Karasov said he was convinced that Reiter believed he'd get away with the kick had it not been caught on video, and criticized Reiter for his total lack of remorse.
Citing the former officer's abuse of authority, his assault of a particularly vulnerable victim, and the fact that Osman's injuries may leave him unable to ever work again, Karasov sentenced Reiter to 180 days in the county workhouse.
He is also barred from working in law enforcement or security jobs indefinitely.
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