The case against a Buffalo police officer accused of intentionally injuring a man in custody earlier this year is shifting to State Supreme Court.
Officer Joseph Hassett was indicted Wednesday on the same five misdemeanor charges he had pleaded innocent to in Buffalo City Court in September.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn decided to seek the indictment after City Court Judge Joseph Fiorella dismissed one of the original charges – official misconduct.
Flynn had attempted to appeal the judge's decision, but the judge wanted to move forward with the trial before the appeal was resolved. Flynn said that left him no alternative but to seek an indictment because he felt strongly that the dismissed charge should remain.
"The official misconduct charge relates to Officer Hassett falsifying the circumstances of the incident," Flynn said.
A cell block video captured Hassett sticking out his leg to trip the handcuffed man he had arrested on narcotics charges last March, police sources said.
The officer is scheduled to be arraigned at 11 a.m. Tuesday before State Supreme Court Judge Russell P. Buscaglia on charges of official misconduct, two counts of third-degree assault, offering a false instrument for filing and making a punishable false written statement.
Timothy W. Hoover, an attorney for Hassett, said in a statement Wednesday evening: “Joe Hassett is a decorated Buffalo police officer who serves the City of Buffalo and its citizens proudly and with honor. He is innocent because he did nothing wrong. His limited use of force was entirely justified and he did not falsify anything.”
Hoover added, “Forty-eight hours before the trial started, without any advance notice to Judge Fiorella or Officer Hassett, and without providing Officer Hassett the opportunity to testify before the grand jury, the District Attorney’s Office obtained an indictment on the same exact misdemeanor charges.
“The same charges were filed 3 months ago. We are not aware of any instance where a misdemeanor indictment mechanism was used two days before trial to prevent the trial from going forward. It is unusual, if not unprecedented,” Hoover said in the statement.