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Buffalo police officer found not guilty of assaulting a suspect

Posted at 11:48 AM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 09:02:10-04

A suspended Buffalo Police officer accused of assaulting a suspect in the Buffalo city lockup has been found not guilty on all charges.

32-year-old Joseph Hassett was charged with two counts of third-degree assault, official misconduct, offering a false instrument for filing and making a punishable false written statement in connection to an incident that happened in March 2017.

Judge Russell Buscaglia heard a bench trial in State Supreme Court and announced the not guilty verdict Thursday morning.

According to investigators, Hassett was recorded on camera allegedly assaulting a drug suspect on March 18, 2017. The suspect was taken to ECMC for a head injury and a cut on his forehead that required stitches. 

The Erie County District Attorney's Office and the Buffalo Police Department both said they didn't learn about the incident until video of the confrontation was requested by the victim's attorney during the course of his criminal case stemming from the March arrest.

D.A. John Flynn said he viewed the video in May 2017 and was "disturbed." He then provided it to the Buffalo Police Department and asked them to investigate.

The video played a key role in Hassertt's bench trial and was discussed at length.

Scripps station WKBW in Buffalo obtained a copy of the video Thursday afternoon. You can hear Hassett tell the suspect, 28-year-old Timothy Stanton Jr. to "get your hands out of your pockets, out of your pants," before the suspect tripping and taking Stanton down. Prosecutors argued this was excessive use of force, but Judge Buscaglia disagreed, dismissing all criminal charges.

BPD Internal Affairs opened an investigation on May 26, 2017 and officially suspended Officer Hassett on May 30, 2017, according to Commissioner Daniel Derenda.

Hassett was suspended for 30 days without pay, and currently remains suspended with pay.