MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two Nassau County cops had no choice but to be rough with a man they pulled over during a traffic stop, the head of the county’s police union said Wednesday.
The motorist, 20-year-old Kyle Howell, of Westbury, claims he was kicked and punched by the undercover police officers in the incident that was caught on surveillance video.
James Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, told reporters Wednesday that Howell failed to obey the officers’ orders and resisted arrest, WCBS 880 Long Island Burea Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.
The video, which was obtained by attorneys for the suspect from a Westbury business near where the traffic stop happened, has prompted an investigation by both the Nassau County district attorney and the police department’s internal affairs unit. Police officials aren’t commenting, citing the ongoing investigation.
The officers were identified in court records as Vincent LoGiudice and Basil Gomez. Carver said both are highly decorated officers with “excellent service records.”
Both have been placed on modified duty while the investigation continues, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
Howell had previous encounters with law enforcement.
The officers were “wrestling with this guy, who’s repeatedly failing to obey the orders of the police officer to give himself up for arrest,” Carver said.
Howell’s attorneys have confirmed he has prior arrests for marijuana possession and petite larceny.
Howell and his attorneys released a copy of the video last week. He was arrested April 25 on charges including resisting arrest, marijuana possession and tampering with evidence. He has pleaded not guilty.
The video depicts the officers stopping Howell’s vehicle and speaking with him briefly. The view of Howell is obscured by a reflection off the windshield, but the officers are later seen punching and kicking someone inside the vehicle. Howell has said he was reaching for his paycheck as it started to fly out the open passenger door. Police have said he was trying to swallow a bag of marijuana, which Howell denies.
“What’s not seen here in the video is what the struggle is going on inside that car with the police officers, the reaching, the potential that there could be a weapon inside that car that he’s reaching for,” Carver said.
Howell suffered facial fractures. His attorneys said he has had surgery to repair an injured eye.
Carver emphasized that it was the suspect’s resistance that led to the injuries.
“He’s doing what he thinks is necessary to be able to place that subject under arrest,” Carver said.
On Tuesday, Howell’s attorneys requested that charges be dropped. A judge said he would review the video before making a ruling next Monday.
Howell has said he plans to sue, claiming he was targeted and harassed. He said he’s been pulled over by the officers in the past, ever since he pleaded guilty to petite larceny and marijuana possession in 2012.
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