A Lloyd Harbor village police officer accused of attacking a 64-year-old man in Massapequa last month remains on active duty while his case is pending in Nassau County criminal court, authorities said.
Dennis Guariglia pleaded not guilty Wednesday at First District Court in Hempstead to harassment, a violation punishable by up to 15 days in jail, one year of probation and a $250 fine. The 35-year-old Kings Park man surrendered to Nassau police, who issued him a summons on April 22, court records show.
“Due to the fact that it was a violation, he is still on active duty,” Lloyd Harbor Village Police Chief Charles Flynn told the Press. He confirmed that the department, which has a staff of about 13, is conducting an internal investigation, but declined further comment.
Nassau police said in court documents that Guariglia was off-duty, driving his Jeep Grand Cherokee on Veterans Boulevard near the Long Island Rail Road station when he honked at Nicholas Caccavale, got out of his SUV, flashed his badge and pushed him at 12:23 a.m. April 5.
Caccavale told investigators that he fell to the ground, hit his head and broke his glasses. He was treated at a local hospital for contusions to the back of his head and arm. His friend and girlfriend who witnessed the altercation confirmed his account to police, according to their statements.
“I left the scene before police responded believing the incident was over,” Guariglia told a Seventh Squad detective. He admitted to Nassau police that he pushed Caccavale, but said that he did not see the victim fall.
Caccavale and his friends disagreed with Guariglia’s account of what sparked the confrontation and who was the aggressor.
Guariglia alleged that he honked twice at Caccavale for him and his friend to move out of his way, that one of them gave the officer the middle finger and the officer heard a thump as he drove passed, according to the officer’s statement. The officer said in the documents that when he got out of the truck, Caccavale “got up close to me,” smelled of alcohol and “was acting very aggressive.”
A witness recalled Caccavale asking “what is he beeping at?” Caccavale, who turns 65 next week, said that Guariglia “called the victim a ‘retard’” before shoving him, according to the documents.
Guariglia said in his statement that an LIRR worker “had to physically hold back the guy.” Caccavale’s girlfriend told police that the man was holding back Guariglia, not Caccavale. She added that when she saw her boyfriend on the ground with Guariglia standing over him, “it looked like he was going to hit Nicholas again,” according to her statement.
Guariglia was released without bail after Judge Joy Watson issued a order of protection requiring Guariglia stay away from Caccavale. Guariglia is due back in court May 19. He earned $168,076 last year, records show.