ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Rockville Centre police officer is accused of hitting a man in the head with a Taser and then lying about it afterwards.
Anthony Federico, 36, has been indicted on charges of assault and falsifying police reports.
“This is a case about clear, unequivocal and unjustified use of force, excessive force,” lawyer for the victims, Brian Griffin, said.
Federico allegedly got into a confrontation with Kevin and Brendan Kavanaugh, brothers from a reputable Rockville Centre family, while responding alone and in uniform to break up a 2 a.m. brawl outside a bar last May, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Federico discharged his Taser several times before hitting Kevin in the head with the device, prosecutors said. The victim needed sutures and 15 staples to close up a six-centimeter gash.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said Federico falsified police paperwork after the incident.
“Accusations of police misconduct are treated very seriously by this office, and we carefully interview witnesses and examine the evidence when an allegation is made,” Singas said. “It is our obligation as prosecutors to follow the evidence where it takes us. In this matter, the facts were presented to a Nassau County grand jury and it returned an indictment.”
Defense Attorney William Petrillo said Federico had found himself in a dangerous situation when he became surrounded by a large crowd outside a bar and was then struck by two people.
“Federico was working by himself in a one-man car in the early morning hours and came upon a large disturbance and an altercation in the street in front of him,” Petrillo said. “This officer by himself in uniform, surrounded by a large crowd of people who had just come out of a bar at around 2:15 in the morning found himself face to face with an individual who had no problem taking one hand and placing it behind Officer Federico’s neck and grabbing him into what clearly appears to be a headlock.”
The attorney said the officer used “reasonable and necessary force” to defend himself and make arrests.
“This police officer found himself in a situation that would, quite frankly, be any police officer’s worst nightmare,” Petrillo said.
“This is not just an indictment against this police officer, it’s an indictment against police,” he continued. “The decision to take this case and to put it into a grand jury will unfortunately cause police officers to refrain from acting.”
The brothers, charged with resisting arrest, say the officer’s story is a lie.
“The video, and the witnesses, and the evidence and the injuries tell this story,” Griffin said.
Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario issued a statement in support of Federico. He said based on the evidence, the officer was defending himself.
More than 200 law enforcement officers, some holding signs that read “Justice for Anthony,” rallied outside Nassau County Court in Mineola to support Federico.
“Very upset that the district attorney has brought this investigation and Anthony is where he is today,” PBA President James Carty said.
Federico pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance. He did not speak as he left court.
He is due back in court on April 19. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top charge.
Federico has been with the Rockville Centre police force for three years, and previously spent eight years with the NYPD.
He remains on duty.