The defense lawyer for a Nassau cop facing criminal charges for allegedly beating a man during a traffic stop said Tuesday he has learned the alleged victim lied about what happened and has admitted there were drugs in his car when he was pulled over.
The accusations surfaced during a court appearance for 34-year-old Officer Vincent LoGiudice. He previously pleaded not guilty to felony and misdemeanor assault charges. Prosecutors allege he used excessive force during a traffic stop in April when he allegedly struck 20-year-old Kyle Howell with “a hard object” and struck Howell in the head and face, causing fractures, according to a criminal indictment.
LoGiudice’s lawyer, William Petrillo, said he believes Howell lied when he and his lawyers held a press conference in May describing what happened during the car stop. “We were informed [Howell] claimed to have been reaching out for a paycheck that blew away, but then admitted that none of that was true,” the defense lawyer said. “He admitted that what he was doing was reaching try to discard the bag of marijuana that was in the car.”
“For the complaining witness to acknowledge he was not truthful about what he was doing inside that car at the moment that this all took place is critical to his credibility, critical to his case and will support, in the end, the reliability and the truthfulness of the not guilty plea entered by Officer LoGiudice,” Petrillo added. He said the information was uncovered when prosecutors passed along evidence under a legal obligation that they provide discovery material. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment on whether the accusations were true, or say whether prosecutors had disclosed the information.
Petrillo also asked Supervising Nassau County Court Judge Christopher Quinn to unseal previous cases involving Howell. According to the defense lawyer, the cases resulted in youthful offender adjudications, meaning they would be sealed from the public because the alleged crimes were committed when the defendant was under 18 years old. Prosecutors said they would inform the court “at the appropriate time” whether they would oppose Petrillo’s request.
Howell’s civil lawyer, Amy Marion, said the defense lawyer was “slamming my client.” She insisted Petrillo was “trying to turn this case on its head” and said there would be no justification for “brutalizing” her client. She declined to say whether Howell lied or whether he is sticking to his story about the paycheck.
Howell’s supporters, including members of the National Action Network, held a rally outside the courthouse following the court appearance. “Justice must be served,” civil rights lawyer Frederick Brewington said. “Don’t blame the victim. Blame the person who did the harm.”
Howell, who suffered facial fractures, had been initially accused of punching and kicking at officers while trying to swallow a bag of marijuana, according to court papers. He denied those allegations and criminal charges against him were later dropped. Howell would not speak with reporters Tuesday.