Nassau County police officer charged with felony assault in traffic stop beating

Stacey Sager reports prosecutors say surveilalnce video shows the officer used excessive force.
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
A Nassau County police officer accused of attacking a Westbury man during a traffic stop has been charged with two counts of felony assault.

A grand jury indictment against officer Vincent LoGiudice was unsealed in Nassau County Court earlier Tuesday. LoGiudice entered a not-guilty plea.

Surveillance video shows the traffic stop, where 20-year-old Kyle Howell was arrested and charged with assaulting LoGiudice and his partner, officer Basil Gomez.

Those charges were dismissed after the video showed the two officers repeatedly striking Howell. Gomez, who also appears on the video, is not named in the indictment, sources said.

Several hundred police officers gathered at the court to support their fellow cop. Applause, rumbling right into the courtroom, where victim 20-year-old Kyle Howell and his family listened to the charges against .

"It was not good ... it just shows that all these people here were supporting police brutality," said Howell.

Howell's attorney said they are hopeful the indictment will include a felony assault charge. Amy Marion said, "These officers come out to support the brutality. This is why this is allowed to continue in this city constantly."

James Carver, the head of the police union, blasted District Attorney Kathleen Rice for the decision clearing Howell. Carver has previously said the officers were attempting to restrain a suspect who had refused to comply with their orders.

"This was done without ever speaking to my police officers to find out their side of the story," he said at a press conference. "It's apparent that they're on a mission just to prosecute these two police officers."

Carver called LoGiudice "probably one of the best cops, if not the best cop ... that Nassau County" has.

Howell, who was arrested on April 25, had surgery to repair an injured eye he suffered during the incident. He said Tuesday he no longer trusts police officers.

"There was no mercy shown as they broke the bones in his face," Howell's mother said. "We live of fear of those who are sworn to protect him."

Police allege in court documents they were trying to stop Howell from swallowing a bag of marijuana, and that he kicked and punched police. Howell has claimed he was reaching for his paycheck as it started to fly out an open door when the officers restrained him.

"To judge this case by the video, would be like judging a book by its cover," said William Petrillo, LoGiudice's defense attorney. "This could cause good police officers in the future to hesitate or to second guess, or to think twice before making a split second decision."

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