Officer convicted in beating of handcuffed 19-year-old at Fulton Houses

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BY ALEX MITCHELL | The NYPD officer accused of mercilessly beating a handcuffed 19-year-old man in a Chelsea NYCHA project and later lying about the incident was convicted by Manhattan prosecutors on Thursday, Oct. 17.

A New York State Supreme Court judge found the 49-year-old Bronx man and NYPD member Elijah Saladeen guilty on misdemeanor assault charges and first degree charges on offering a false instrument for filing, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

He was said to have punched the handcuffed Jeremy Santiago repeatedly in both the face and the head at the Fulton Houses on West 17th Street and later taking Santiago into a corner to continuously assault him while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, according to the DA’s office.

Court video shows Saladeen striking and grounding Santiago in the corner of an elevator bay while he was investigating a call about trespassing on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2017.

That violent video, which showed Santiago’s face getting bloodied, was played during the end of his trial on Friday, Oct. 11.

“Saladeen dragged the victim to the rear of the building and punched him again in the ribs and abdomen,” a DA statement says.

While his partner, officer Natalie Roman, tried to pull Saladeen off Santiago, video shows that he continues to strike the 19-year-old while shoving him into a corner for several more seconds.

“The alleged conduct does not only violate the oath he took to protect and to serve; it also weakens the public trust in law enforcement,” Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance said in August of 2018 when Saladeen was indicted on charges.

Saladeen later made false statements about the incident and the nature of the victim’s injuries to his supervisors and to prosecutors, as well as in official charging documents and police reports, according to Vance.

“This 19-year veteran of the NYPD assaulted a young man, and then lied about it,” said Vance noting that both his public corruption unit and the NYPD internal affairs bureau were instrumental to the conviction.

“His criminal misconduct caused extensive injuries to his victim and damage to all in law enforcement who are working to strengthen our relationships with the communities we are sworn to protect,” the DA continued.

Saladeen is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday, Nov. 12, according to the DA’s office.