Nassau Cop Found Not Guilty Of Assault Charges From Traffic Stop

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

NY officer acquitted of assault charges from traffic stop.

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Nassau County cop has been acquitted of all charges in connection with the beating of a man during a traffic stop last year that was captured on surveillance video. Prosecutors said LoGiudice was seen on the video using his fists, knee and flashlight to hit driver Kyle Howell at least 18 times while trying to arrest him. Officer Vincent LoGiudice’s defense was that he used reasonable and necessary force to try to control motorist Kyle Howell, now 22, of Westbury, after he saw him dive across the car and reach under a seat as if grabbing for a gun before violently resisting police.

Prosecutor Bernadette Ford, chief of the district attorney’s Public Corruption Bureau, had argued during the trial in Nassau County Court in Mineola that LoGiudice wasn’t justified in using the amount of force he inflicted on Howell, including by punching him and kneeing him in the face. During the stop when the officers were near their cruiser, he leaned over, took a bag of marijuana out of the glove compartment and tried to open it to dump it out onto the street, he said. LoGiudice, 35, a decorated officer with a master’s degree who is married and has a 1-year-old daughter, joined the police force in 2007 and graduated as valedictorian of his academy class. Before acting State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Harrington announced her verdict, civil rights advocates chanted “no justice, no peace,” saying the officer should be found guilty of assault. Howell, who was 20 and on probation for a burglary conviction at the time of the traffic stop, suffered facial fractures in the assault and needed two surgeries that prosecutors said didn’t completely fix vision problems he has now.

Howell has a federal civil rights lawsuit pending against the county and LoGiudice and his partner, Officer Basil Gomez, that claims he was the victim of police brutality. Howell’s family retrieved a video that a store’s surveillance camera recorded and gave it to prosecutors, prompting a police misconduct probe and for authorities to drop charges against Howell. Howell said that in a previous encounter Gomez threatened to use force to stop him if he tried to record him again — a threat Gomez denied in his testimony. Howell, who denied resisting arrest, also testified LoGiudice started hitting him when he leaned to the car’s passenger side to get rid of the marijuana by ripping the bag and so it would fly away and his probation wouldn’t be violated. He also testified he believed police planted a piece of bag with cocaine residue in the car — an item prosecutors have said had DNA on it from an unknown male in Howell’s family.

LoGiudice said he’d been heading to the driver’s side to help Gomez handcuff Howell when the diving action sparked him to head back to the passenger side and punch Howell as the man swung at him with his other hand. LoGiudice also testified about prior interactions with Howell, when he found a BB gun under his car’s seat and when Howell told him he’d been arrested in a robbery case. LoGiudice said delivered knee strikes to Howell’s face and upper body after his punches had “no effect” on the motorist, who kept flailing and swinging. LoGiudice testified he never saw Howell try to eat the marijuana — as alleged in sworn complaints — but deduced it based on seeing saliva on a torn bag and marijuana on the motorist’s face.

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