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Article posted: 10/30/2013 4:15 PM

Skokie police officer charged with battery

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A Skokie police officer from Gurnee faces charges of aggravated battery and official misconduct after prosecutors accused him of shoving a female detainee into a holding cell, causing facial fractures that required reconstructive surgery.

Michael Hart, 43, has been a Skokie police officer since 1994. If convicted of the most serious felony, he could face from two to five years in prison. Probation is also available.

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On March 10, another Skokie police officer arrested Cassandra Feuerstein, 47, on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. During the booking process, Feuerstein repeatedly disregarded Hart's instructions to look at a specific location on the camera lens so she could be photographed, prosecutors said. After she disregarded his final command, authorities say Hart "became irate," grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward an open cell, where Feuerstein grasped the doorway and shouted at Hart to "wait." Prosecutors say Hart responded by shoving her into the cell and causing her to fall against a concrete bench.

Feuerstein suffered a facial fracture, loose teeth and a cut on her cheek.

The events were recorded by video surveillance cameras located through the police station, prosecutors said.

In a prepared statement, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez acknowledged that police officers have a difficult job and work under challenging conditions. But she added, "every law enforcement officer holds his or her powers through the public trust and this senseless act constitutes a violation of that trust."

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