Yonkers police sergeant accused of excessively kicking and punching man during arrest

Officials with Yonkers police tell News 12, Cartagena was suspended without pay. He has been with the department for 24 years.

Melanie Palmer

Jun 17, 2024, 9:14 PM

Updated 25 days ago

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A 55-year-old Yonkers police sergeant was indicted on assault-related charges.
Sgt. Hector Cartagena was arrested Monday.
The alleged incident he's connected to happened March 14 and started with a report of a stolen car.
The Westchester County District Attorney's Office claims the suspect led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash near Warburton and Glenwood avenues in Yonkers.
Arrest documents allege Cartagena kicked the suspect four times and punched him 10 times in the face while he was being arrested. The suspect was said to have been left with a fractured orbital bone.
"Police officers are sworn to protect us and uphold the law. The Yonkers Police Department was proactive in identifying one of their officers as acting outside their training policies and promptly referred this matter to my office. The facts learned during the course of our investigation were presented to a grand jury who returned an indictment charging the defendant with offenses related to his alleged use of excessive force," said Westchester County District Attorney Miriam Rocah.
Officials with Yonkers police tell News 12, Cartagena was suspended without pay. He has been with the department for 24 years.
Yonkers CLSA, the police union backing Cartagena says he was performing his official duties in attempting to subdue a violent felon. They believe he will be exonerated of all charges after a full review of the case.
The union's president released the following statement:
"The members of the Yonkers Police Captains, Lieutenants, and Sergeants Association fully support Detective Sergeant Hector Cartagena. We ask you all to remember that this decorated, long-serving officer is innocent until proven guilty. This pursuit started with a suspect who stole a civilian vehicle and proceeded to lead numerous police units on a high speed chase throughout the City of Yonkers. The perpetrator intentionally caused accidents with several police vehicles that resulted in injuries to police officers. The perpetrator’s actions throughout this pursuit endangered the lives of numerous citizens of the City of Yonkers. The Detective Sergeant was performing his official duties in attempting to subdue a violent felon who was resisting attempts to be taking into custody. Every person in this great country is afforded a right to due process. Unfortunately, based on the statements issued by Mayor Spano and Commissioner Sapienza, Detective Sergeant Cartagena has been denied this right. Their rush to judgement on a 25 year veteran of the YPD with an honorable record is disappointing, and these comments could have a negative impact on his right to a fair trial. The Yonkers CLSA looks forward to Detective Sergeant Cartagena’s opportunity to present all the facts of this case. We believe that after a full review of all the evidence, Detective Sergeant Cartagena will be exonerated of all charges."
The sergeant will be back in court on July 31.
Yonkers police released the following statement:
In March 2024, in line with the goals of transparency and commitment to the community, the Yonkers Police Department proactively informed the Westchester District Attorney's Office and the public of the actions taken by a member of the Department during the apprehension of a suspect after a dangerous vehicle pursuit that raised concerns and sparked an internal investigation.
On March 14, 2024, just after 9:45 PM, Yonkers Police Department officers pursued a suspect in a stolen vehicle through City streets while the suspect caused several collisions with police vehicles, injured several officers, drove recklessly, and endangered the public. These officers followed procedure and protocol to keep the community safe while attempting to apprehend him. The pursuit ended with a crash at the intersection of Warburton Avenue and Glenwood Avenue.
Upon apprehending this suspect, force was used to place the suspect into custody. As is Yonkers Police procedure with all uses of force, an investigation into the use of force was promptly initiated at the scene. The Yonkers Police Internal Affairs Division immediately responded and reviewed the actions taken by the Officers.
In this preliminary investigation, it was determined that one member of the department, Detective Sergeant Hector Cartagena, utilized force in a manner not consistent with training, procedures, or Department values. It was evident from this preliminary review that this member acted alone in these actions and all other Officers on the scene followed policy and procedure.
The Yonkers Police Department proactively presented this incident to the Westchester County District Attorney's Office within twenty-four hours and promptly informed the Department of Justice. As such, this incident was investigated by the Westchester County District Attorney's Public Integrity Bureau. The Yonkers Police Department cooperated fully with all aspects of this investigation which upheld our initial findings and resulted in the recommendation of criminal charges.
Earlier today, Detective Sergeant Hector Cartagena appeared in Westchester County Court where he was arraigned on charges of Assault in the second degree, Attempted Assault in the second degree, and Assault in the third degree as a result of his actions.
As a result of this incident, Detective Sergeant Hector Cartagena has been suspended without pay. He has been a member of the Yonkers Police Department for twenty-four years and was assigned to the Crime Scene Unit.
"After a review of this incident, I am outraged by the actions of this particular supervisor. His actions serve to negate the great work exhibited by the other officers involved to safely apprehend the suspect at the scene," said Yonkers Police Commissioner Christopher Sapienza. "His actions further harm our relationship with the community, which we have worked so hard to build. Our immediate Internal Investigation and swift referral to an outside agency for investigation show that such behavior will not be tolerated by this department. We appreciate the objective and thorough review of the incident completed by the Westchester County District Attorney's Office and we will continue to cooperate with them as appropriate. Our mission and commitment to our community remains steadfast-we are here to serve you with integrity and respect." "The actions of this police supervisor are indefensible. It's the very definition of disrespect for the badge and we condemn it," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. "This unfortunate incident should not be a reflection of the men and women who serve and protect this City with integrity every day. That's why we initiated this investigation and alerted the proper authorities, ensuring our role in constitutional policing. We have made substantial changes to our policies and procedures when it comes to excessive force and we will continue to review our internal policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again. This type of behavior will never be tolerated."


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