MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of DWI arrests on Long Island may be thrown out due to inconsistent testimony involving a veteran Nassau police officer and a rookie cop.
Roslyn Heights restaurant manager James Karalis faced felony drunken driving charges and even the lifetime loss of his license.
“It’s an ordeal that is now in the past, and I look forward to just living the rest of my life with my license,” he told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
His case is among more than 50 in which Nassau judges agreed to reduce or dismiss charges based on questionable arrests by veteran Nassau Police Officer Michael Palazzo.
“Mr. Kalaris, like many others who are charged with a crime … feel the jury will believe the police officer,” Susan Scaring Carman, Karalis’ defense attorney, said, “but here, there was a video that exposed Officer Palazzo.”
The cop’s credibility came into question when store surveillance video from a Greenvale arrest of a female driver surfaced, revealing conflicts with the officer and his partner’s sworn testimony, according to the DA.
“People saw the video, you can see she is walking fine,” defense attorney Robert Brunetti said. “You can see he gave the test wrong. You can see he was having her face next to flashing lights and that the way he did the tests were improper.”
“His video was very important because it really contradicted that officer’s testimony,” said Gregory Grizopoulos, with the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County.
Grizopoulos sent a letter to members of Nassau’s bar association, alerting them to the video and warning them to evaluate as many as six dozen cases involving Palazzo.
“Officer Palazzo was one of the police officers in the county who does a lot of DWI work. He’s a common thread to many DWI cases, especially on the North Shore,” he said.
The veteran officer retired from his 20-year police career in March of 2018, one month after the video emerged. He has consistently defended his actions.
Palazzo maintains his arrests were factual and says he retired due to workplace harassment. He is suing the county.
The defense attorneys who spoke to CBS2 are crediting the integrity of the district attorney’s office, saying multiple other DWI cases are now on hold.
Palazzo has not yet responded to CBS2’s request for an on-camera interview.