Trial starts for officer accused of assault

6:54 PM, Feb 21, 2012   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The trial of a Cumberland County corrections officer accused of assaulting an inmate kicked off Tuesday morning.

Veteran officer, Nicholas Stein, is accused of handcuffing inmate, Brian Cote, after he jumped from a 2nd floor balcony in the jail. Cote took the stand Tuesday morning.  He said he was in a lot of pain after the fall, but Stein still dragged him nearly 200 feet to the medical unit, and at one point, stopped to punch him in the face.

Cote says he takes medication for bi-polar disorder as well as anti-depressants, and was on day 4 of not having access to those meds. He says he stood on the balcony for attention from the officers.  He says Stein told him if he jumped he should do it right and land on his head.  Cote says that just angered him more and made him jump. 

Cote's girlfriend, Katie Bridges, says he has gone through multiple surgeries since then on his feet, and spent 5 months in a wheelchair. She says it's been hard since they have a 1 year old and a 5 year old to take care of.

Officer Stein is a veteran at the Cumberland County Jail.  Reports show he had been disciplined in the past for punching a hole in a wall and kicking a photocopier.

Stein's attorney, Kristine Hanly, says surveillance video of the incident last June shows Stein handcuffing Cote and dragging him to the medical unit, but it never shows him hitting Cote.

A jury will hear testimony from other officers and inmates who witnessed the event, and see the surveillance video.  They will determine whether Stein is guilty of assault.  Stein has plead not guilty; if found guilty, he could face 2 years in jail and a $2,000 fine.


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