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Long Island judge wants to see video of alleged police brutality

Kyle Howell (center) speaks alongside his attorneys, Steven Gaitman (left) and Amy Marion (right) after appearing in court Tuesday.
Kyle Howell (center) speaks alongside his attorneys, Steven Gaitman (left) and Amy Marion (right) after appearing in court Tuesday.
Photo Credit: Mike Balsamo

A Nassau County Court judge told prosecutors Tuesday he wants to see a video that allegedly shows two police officers brutalizing a 20-year-old Westbury man during a traffic stop before arresting him on a slew of criminal charges.

Flanked by his attorneys, family and supporters, Kyle Howell, 20, appeared in court Tuesday for a conference in his criminal case. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that include felony assault, tampering with evidence, resisting arrest and drug possession. “We’re asking that the case be dismissed immediately,” Howell’s attorney, Amy Marion, said. “It is absolutely a travesty of justice that this case has not been and is not today being immediately dismissed”

Assistant District Attorney Daniel Looney said prosecutors needed more time to investigate the circumstances of the case. “The district attorney’s office is currently conducting an investigation,” Looney, the chief of the district attorney’s county court trial bureau, told Acting State Supreme Court Judge Alan Honorof. He asked the judge to put the case off for three weeks, but Honorof said he wanted to “keep a close eye on this” and adjourned the case to next Monday. The judge also exonerated a $10,000 bail Howell had posted after he was arraigned in his hospital bed on April 26.

“The court asked to look at the video and hopefully the court will look at the video and then we will get some justice here, but the assistant district attorney and the district attorney’s office should be dismissing this case outright,” Marion said. “I have some hope, at least that this is a good judge, and the judge is asking to see what went on here so he knows what we’re really talking about.”

The surveillance video, which was retrieved from a nearby business, appears to show one of the officers punching and kicking Howell after he was pulled over on April 25 at the intersection of Union Avenue and Covert Street in Westbury. In court documents, police had alleged a “violent struggle” began after Howell tried to swallow a bag of marijuana. The officers said Howell punched and kicked them. Howell has denied the allegations.

"The district attorney’s office is conducting a thorough investigation of this very serious matter and is taking actions accordingly,” said Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Aside from the district attorney’s probe, Nassau County police have also opened an internal affairs investigation into the allegations, officials said.

Tuesday’s court appearance comes just a week after Howell announced he filed a notice a claim – a first step in a civil lawsuit against the county, police and a local hospital – alleging false arrest, excessive force and malicious prosecution in the case. A spokeswoman for Nassau University Medical Center, which is also named in the legal papers, declined to comment on the lawsuit last week.

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