An attorney for the Westbury man allegedly beaten by a Nassau County police officer has renewed calls for federal prosecutors to take over the case, which the lawyer claimed local prosecutors botched.
Among the complaints are that Nassau prosecutors did not charge the officer’s partner—who is also seen throwing punches in a surveillance video of the alleged assault—didn’t ask the FBI to enhance the video and didn’t classify the case as a hate crime. The officers in the case are white and the victim is black.
“They are virtually dumping it,” Amy Marion of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon told reporters during a news conference Wednesday at her Garden City office. A spokeswoman for Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, did not respond to a request for comment.
Marion represents the 20-year-old alleged police brutality victim, Kyle Howell, in a planned lawsuit against the police department and defendant, Officer Vincent LoGiudice, who pleaded not guilty in June to felony assault charges stemming from an April 25 traffic stop in New Cassel. Prosecutors dropped charges he and his partner, Officer Basil Gomez, filed against Howell, including counts of assaulting an officer, resisting arrest and drug possession. Howell has been recovering from a broken eye socket and other injuries and LoGiudice was suspended without pay.
“These irresponsible and false allegations will not help seek justice in this case and there is no justification for a special prosecutor,” Paul Leonard, spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice—who is running for Congress—said in a statement. “The police protested because they felt the DA was being too aggressive against them and now the other side is protesting that she’s not being aggressive enough. It sounds like the DA’s being precisely the type of independent fact-finder and prosecutor that the public deserves.”
LoGiudice’s Rockville Centre-based attorney, William Petrillo, has criticized Howell for lying about what he was doing in his car when he was pulled over before the alleged beating. Howell had told reporters during a press conference that he was trying to keep his paycheck from blowing out of the open passenger side door. He later testified that he was trying to get rid of a bag of marijuana, as police had said they suspected.
Marion said that her client was simply nervous about admitting to having marijuana on national television, but added that he never lied under oath and it still doesn’t justify being punched and kneed in the face.
Howell’s mother, Joan, asked rhetorically: “If someone has marijuana, is it justification to beat someone half to death?”
LoGiudice is due back in court Nov. 7.