A Nassau County police officer was acquitted Friday of assaulting a motorist during a traffic stop during which the driver was repeatedly punched on video in Westbury last year.
Judge Patricia Harrington, who found Vincent LoGiudice not guilty of assault, read her verdict to the packed courtroom, sparking protests from the family of the accuser, Kyle Howell.
“No justice, no peace” Howell’s family members and supporters chanted with their hands up as they filed out of the Mineola courthouse.
Judge Harrington said that the video of LoGiudice beating Howell did not tell the whole story and prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that LoGiudice used excessive force while he and his partner, Basil Gomez, were trying to arrest Howell.
Howell and LoGiudice declined to comment after the verdict.
As previously reported by the Press, Howell was pulled over by undercover officers LoGiudice and Gomez in April, 2014 for driving with a cracked windshield. Video captured by an outdoor surveillance camera showed LoGiudice repeatedly using his fists and knees to subdue Howell, who was arrested for assaulting an officer, resisting arrest, tampering with evidence, possession of cocaine and marijuana, speeding and driving with a broken windshield. Those charges were subsequently dropped.
After the verdict, Howell family attorney Amy Marion of Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon once again called for a federal investigation into LoGiudice’s conduct and the Howell beating, alleging that prosecutors mishandled the case on numerous issues including failing to charge LoGiudice’s partner and failing to prosecute the case as a hate crime. Marion is representing the Howell family in a pending lawsuit against the officer.
A spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said that “prosecutors presented the full breadth of the evidence and we accept the judge’s verdict” and declined to comment further.
Nassau Police Benevolent Association President James Carver told the Press that the verdict “proves that a silent video alone does not give you the true story of what happens. It’s part of the story, but it’s not the whole story. You can’t see the emotion. You can’t see that both officers were feeling that fear for their lives.”
After his indictment, LoGiudice was suspended without pay. If convicted, he would have faced up to seven years in prison.