Civil rights activists are calling on federal prosecutors to launch a probe into the Nassau County district attorney’s grand jury inquiry that left a Nassau County police officer facing felony charges for allegedly assaulting a man during a traffic stop in April.
The 34-year-old officer, Vincent LoGiudice, was indicted in June on felony and misdemeanor assault charges. Prosecutors have charged the 7-year veteran cop used excessive force when he allegedly struck 20-year-old Kyle Howell with “a hard object” during a traffic stop on April 25 in Westbury, according to a criminal indictment against him. A surveillance video from a nearby business, which was obtained by Howell’s lawyers, appears to show LoGiudice and another officer punching and kicking Howell during the car stop.
The National Action Network is now calling on Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to investigate why only one of the officers involved in the incident was criminally charged. In an online petition, the group alleges that the surveillance video also shows the second officer “acting in concert” with LoGiudice. The second officer, Basil Gomez, has not been accused of wrongdoing.
Activists say they also want an investigation into “whether or not the grand jury was presented with the signed felony complaints,” which were completed by the officers when they arrested Howell. The court papers, which were obtained by Examiner.com after the incident, said there was a “violent struggle” between Howell and the officers. The criminal complaints, which were all completed and signed by LoGiudice, said Howell punched and kicked at the cops after he tried to swallow a bag of marijuana. Howell denied those allegations and criminal charges against him were later dropped.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office said Monday he could not confirm or comment on a possible federal investigation.
Paul Leonard, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, declined to comment on the group’s call for an investigation. He did not respond to an email asking whether Rice or her representatives had been contacted by federal prosecutors.
LoGiudice, who was released after his last court appearance without bail, is expected to face a judge again on Tuesday. His attorney has said the officer’s actions were “reasonable.” LoGiudice has pleaded not guilty.
Howell has filed a notice of claim – a first step to a civil lawsuit against the county, police and a local hospital – alleging false arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution. Representatives for all three municipal agencies have declined to comment on the suit citing pending litigation.