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Agent called to help man in crisis, instead groped him 7 times in 2 minutes in New York, FBI say

A New York police sergeant surrendered to the FBI for four years after he groped a man seven times while he was handcuffed on the floor — in violation of his rights, federal prosecutors said.

Sergeant Mario Stewart, 44, of Brooklyn, was the supervising officer when he and six other Mount Vernon police officers responded to a man experiencing a mental health crisis in a suburban New York City parking lot, according to an indictment filed July 19 in federal court.

Under Stewart’s direction, officers on the scene handcuffed the man to his back and put his legs in a security bag before he was scheduled to be transported for medical attention, the indictment said.

As the man lay on the ground, motionless in handcuffs and shackles, Stewart groped him repeatedly in front of the other officers, according to the indictment.

Now Stewart faces deprivation of rights under the law, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced in a July 20 press release.

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“Instead of offering assistance, Stewart tasered the individual seven times in the space of approximately two minutes while the individual was handcuffed and had his legs tied and several other MVPD officers were on the scene to assist,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in the press release. “Stewart’s alleged behavior not only betrayed his duty as an officer to protect those in his care, but also violated the law.”

Information on Stewart’s legal representation was not available on the afternoon of July 21.

Stewart was a sergeant in the department’s emergency department, which handles mental health calls, when he responded to the man in emotional distress in March 2019, prosecutors said.

After officers strapped the man’s legs into a restraint bag that day, they unsuccessfully tried to pull the restraint bag over his chest because the man grabbed hold of one of the straps, prosecutors said.

This led to Stewart ordering the man to release the straps just before he was to tase him, prosecutors said.

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McClatchy News contacted Mount Vernon Police on July 21 for comment and to inquire about his employment status and awaited a response.

If Stewart is convicted under law on one charge of confiscation, he could face up to 10 years in prison, prosecutors said.

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