MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A former Nassau County police officer is defending his name.
Dozens of his drunk-driving cases have been dismissed or are under review, all pinned on inconsistent courtroom testimony.
But he told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan in an exclusive interview his superiors got it all wrong.
“I’m not a bad cop. I was never a bad cop. I loved being a cop,” said Michael Palazzo, a former member of the Nassau police force.
In his first television interview, Palazzo defended his sworn testimony concerning a DWI arrest in 2017. Video recently surfaced that has since led to the dismissal or reduced charges in more than 60 drunk-driving cases and his retirement from the force.
“I didn’t tell any lies,” Palazzo said.
When the DWI video emerged of a North Shore arrest, defense attorneys contacted District Attorney Madeline Singas with proof they said of Palazzo’s courtroom inconsistencies.
“You can see she’s walking fine. You can see he gave the test wrong. You can see that he was having her facing next to flashing lights, and that the way he did the tests were improper,” defense attorney Robert Brunetti said.
“Video was very important because it really contradicted that officer’s testimony,” defense attorney Gregory Grizopoulos added.
Soon, that case was dropped, and subsequently dozens more deals were made, including that of Roslyn Heights restaurant manager James Karalis.
“I can drive again and I’m just super thankful,” Karalis said.
Some members of the Nassau’s County Bar Association said if Palazzo had embellished the truth once, all his cases were jeopardized. However, Palazzo insists it was political. The woman pulled over in this case happened to be the mother of a police officer.
“Because this was the arrest of a cop’s mom, this turned into a circus,” Palazzo said.
Palazzo and his attorney claim retaliation by Nassau’s police force.
“If I was to have let that woman go, and the video surfaced, and she killed someone, I’d be sitting probably in a green jumpsuit here,” Palazzo said.
“It’s unfortunate that his career as an officer who made something like 3,000 arrests had to come to an end this way,” added Michael Talassazan, Palazzo’s attorney.
“Once Miss Singas found out about that she took direct and decisive action, above and beyond to take care of this problem,” Brunetti said.
“I gave blood, sweat and tears to the job, and it hurts so bad that I have to defend myself now to this,” Palazzo said.
Palazzo is suing Nassau County and the police department, alleging he was forced to retire due to a hostile work environment. Multiple pending DWI cases remain on hold.
The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said it will not be prosecuting Palazzo for lying under oath because the inconsistent testimony did not meet the elements of a perjury charge, according to New York state.