A Long Island man is planning to sue Nassau County Police after he said he was violently attacked by two police officers when he was pulled over in Westbury, according to his attorneys, who released a video of the incident Tuesday.
Kyle Howell, 20, of Westbury, has now filed a notice of claim – a first step to a civil lawsuit against the county, police and a local hospital – alleging false arrest, malicious prosecution, excessive force and a conspiracy by officers to cover up what happened. The incident is now being probed by the Nassau County district attorney’s office and police have also launched an internal affairs investigation, officials said.
Howell was pulled over near his home around 7 p.m. on April 25 and was arrested on charges of felony assault, tampering with evidence, resisting arrest and drug possession. His lawyers say they are now seeking to have the charges dropped after surveillance video surfaced of the encounter with police. In court papers, police said a bag of marijuana was visible inside his glove compartment and cops allege Howell tried to swallow the drugs in what they called “a deliberate attempt to destroy it as potential evidence.” The officers said a “violent struggle” ensued and Howell allegedly punched and kicked the two cops.
“They came out of the car, I gave them my information, they opened up the door and my paycheck started to fly out the door,” Howell said at news conference in his attorneys’ office. “I went to reach and the next thing you know, I got a knee to the face. And the next thing I remember, I was in the hospital.”
A surveillance video his attorneys retrieved from a nearby business shows two officers in an unmarked vehicle stopping Howell and briefly speaking with him. The video, which is partially obstructed by a reflection on the windshield, shows one of the officers punching and kicking at someone in the vehicle. Howell, who is believed to have been the only person in the car, denied the police allegations that he tried to swallow a bag of marijuana and also disputed having cocaine – another criminal charge he is facing. “None of that is true,” he said.
His mother, Joan Howell, said her son had been the target of racial profiling and said he had been pulled over by police numerous times in the past year for various traffic infractions. “Each of those times, his car is searched,” defense lawyer Steven Gaitman said. “That’s the difference between a regular car stop and with Kyle.” Howell said he has prior convictions for petit larceny and marijuana possession. "I don't know that there's any explanation that would ever in any way justify this,” his attorney, Amy Marion said.
Nassau University Medical Center is also named in the claim, which alleges the hospital “covered up the brutal assault,” and “failed to properly treat and provide medical care.” A hospital spokeswoman said they would not comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.