By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Pennsylvania state trooper was found not guilty Monday in a case that charged him with deprivation of civil rights.
43-year-old Kelly Cruz had been accused of using excessive force during an arrest in which the suspect was mistakenly targeted in his home following a drug raid a few doors away in Exton in August of 2009.
During the trial, the prosecution told a federal jury that Zachary Bare was handcuffed and face down on the kitchen floor of the home he shared with his disabled mother, when Cruz kicked him in the head, driving his face into the floor and damaging his teeth.
The prosecution told the jury that Bare didn’t deserve to have his teeth kicked in and that he hadn’t done anything wrong.
But the defense argued it was a reasonable use of force.
Trooper Cruz admitted he pushed his foot down on Bare, but told the court he reacted instinctively when he entered the kitchen, saw Bare trying to get up, and did not realize that he was cuffed. Cruz said he was immediately disappointed to see the injuries he caused.
Closing arguments concluded Monday — and after hours of deliberations — the jury decided that the use of force in this case was not excessive and acquitted the trooper, causing an outburst of cheers from supporters of Cruz inside the courtroom.
Cruz had been suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the trial.