Former Buffalo police officer John Cirulli was caught on video hitting and kicking a handcuffed suspect on April 19, but will not be going to jail, largely in part because he and the FBI lecture other police not to abuse people.
Instead, Cirulli was sentenced to one year of probation by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny on Monday.
An unidentified bystander filmed Cirulli as he beat John Willet, a black man who was handcuffed on the ground (video below).
Twenty-five letters, many from fellow police officers, were presented on Cirulli’s behalf to the judge, noted WIVB (video below).
Cirulli’s attorney described the ex-cop as the “ultimate family man" who has been punished by losing the career that he had always dreamed of.
The "ultimate family man" accepted a plea deal in May and admitted hitting Willet on the ground and in a police car.
“We asked for two years [in jail] in this case,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.
According to Buffalo News, Cirulli didn't go to jail partly because he and the FBI are teaching other cops not to commit human rights violations.
Judge Skretny said that Cirulli's work with the FBI will help to prevent a “culture” of excessive force in some police departments.
“There is a mentality, a culture, that is sometimes worrisome," Judge Skretny said.
“The FBI remains committed to investigating allegations of federal civil rights violations as well as engaging in proactive measures to prevent them from occurring,” added Brian P. Boetig, special agent in charge of the FBI office in Buffalo which works with Cirulli.
In addition to the assault, Cirulli also admitted that he took a cellphone from the bystander who filmed the incident, but Cirulli was unaware the witness gave him a second phone without the beating video.
There was no such court leniency for Willet who did four months in jail for the drug charge that Cirulli arrested him for.
Willet has now filed a lawsuit against Cirulli and two other officers for using excessive force.