Samuel Rosario, the former Springfield cop found guilty of official misconduct for a 2017 fistfight with a civilian, was sentenced to probation this morning.
During the proceeding, Sangamon County state’s attorney Dan Wright and defense counsel Dan Fultz revealed that Rosario, prior to trial, had refused to promise that he would never again be a cop during plea negotiations that broke down.
“That is why we are here today,” Wright said.
At one point, prosecutors had considered handling the matter in veterans court, a program modeled after drug court in which defendants can get help for issues that prompted criminal behavior. Rosario, an Iraq combat veteran, says he's been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was taking antidepressants when he challenged Robert Humes to a fistfight in 2017.
Fultz acknowledged that his client had declined a prosecution demand to agree that he would never again be a cop. “He felt that him agreeing to never be a police officer was an extreme request,” Fultz said.
A jury in August found Rosario guilty of misdemeanor battery and official misconduct, a felony. Rosario was acquitted of a second battery charge that required a showing that Humes had suffered bodily harm during a fistfight captured by the officer’s body cam. In at least two other cases involving police officers charged with felonies, the Sangamon County state’s attorney’s office has agreed to misdemeanor resolutions predicated on defendants never again being police officers. Rosario’s felony conviction, likely, will preclude him from getting another job as a police officer.
In pronouncing sentence, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John Madonia said it’s a moot point whether Rosario’s case could have been handled differently so that the Army veteran would not be a felon. “I don’t know, but we’re past that point now,” Madonia said.
Rosario told the judge that he believed that the verdict would have been different if the jury had seen all the footage of a video showing him apologizing to Humes shortly after the fight and Humes saying no apology was necessary. Instead, jurors saw an edited version that ended after Rosario told Humes, who has sued the city, that he was wrong.
Immediately suspended from duty, then fired, Rosario said that he’s had trouble finding employment. “I’m no longer even going to be a veteran,” Rosario told the judge. “I’m a felon now.”
Madonia said that any notion that Rosario’s crime lacked a victim was “myopic, to say the least.” Before the advent of body cams, the judge said, the case might never have been filed, but times have changed.
“Every member of our community who views that video is impacted,” the judge said. “It, absolutely, does erode the confidence our community has in our officers. I absolutely disagree that this was a victimless crime.”
Contact Bruce Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.