Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Christie M. Curtis, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging MARIO STEWART, a Sergeant with the Mount Vernon Police Department (“MVPD”), with using excessive force against an individual (the “Victim”) while in Mount Vernon, New York, in violation of the Victim’s rights under the United States Constitution. As alleged in the Indictment, during a call for assistance, STEWART, in the presence of six other MVPD officers, tased the Victim seven times in the span of approximately two minutes. For the duration of all seven taser deployments, the Victim lay on the ground, handcuffed with his hands behind his back and his legs secured in a restraint bag. STEWART surrendered to the FBI this morning and was presented this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith C. McCarthy in White Plains federal court. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As alleged, Mario Stewart, a Sergeant with the Mount Vernon Police Department, was called to the scene to aid a person in emotional distress. Instead of providing aid, Stewart deployed his taser on the individual seven times in the span of roughly two minutes, while the individual was handcuffed and with his legs restrained and while several other MVPD officers were on scene to assist. Stewart’s alleged conduct not only betrayed his duty as an officer to protect those under his charge, but also violated the law. My Office is committed to protecting the constitutional rights of all New Yorkers, including those experiencing mental health crises, and to holding law enforcement officers accountable when they abuse their authority.”
FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Christie M. Curtis said: “As alleged in today’s indictment, Stewart’s actions led him to inflict bodily harm upon his victim. Officers of the law are not above the law, and the FBI is committed to investigating any instances in which a federal crime has been committed.”
According to the Indictment that was unsealed today in White Plains federal court:
On or about March 26, 2019, STEWART was employed as a Sergeant with the MVPD. STEWART was assigned to the MVPD’s Emergency Services Unit, which is responsible for, among other things, responding to individuals who are experiencing mental health crises. On that day, STEWART and six other MVPD officers received a call to assist the Victim in Mount Vernon, New York, as the Victim was experiencing a mental health crisis.
At the scene, STEWART and the other MVPD officers restrained the Victim, handcuffing his hands behind his back and securing his legs in a restraint bag in preparation to transport the Victim for medical assistance. When the MVPD officers were unable to pull the restraint bag over the Victim’s chest because the Victim was holding onto one of the bag’s straps, STEWART directed the Victim to release the strap. STEWART then proceeded to tase the Victim seven times in the span of approximately two minutes. While STEWART deployed his taser all seven times, the Victim remained laying on the ground, handcuffed with his hands behind his back and his legs secured in the restraint bag. STEWART’s actions caused bodily injury to the Victim.
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STEWART, 44, of Brooklyn, New York, is charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the FBI. Mr. Williams also thanked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit in the Criminal Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gillian Grossman and Jared Hoffman are in charge of the prosecution.
The charge contained in the Indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
 As the introductory phrase signifies, the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.