An attorney for the Nassau police officer charged with assaulting Westbury resident Kyle Howell said the 20-year-old admitted he lied about his actions during a traffic stop caught on camera, conceding he had marijuana at the time.
The claim emerged Tuesday as Officer Vincent LoGiudice, 34, appeared at a Mineola court conference after previously pleading not guilty to three assault charges that include two felony counts.
The defense's statement sparked criticism from Howell's supporters, who said he was being victimized again and that authorities had dropped all charges against him.
Attorney William Petrillo of Rockville Centre said the defense had "been made aware" that Howell conceded he didn't tell the truth at a news conference when he spoke about the April 25 traffic stop recorded by a Westbury store's security camera.
Petrillo alleged that Howell's claim of reaching to retrieve a paycheck that blew away was false and said Howell admitted he'd been trying to discard a bag of marijuana. Petrillo said he'd gotten discovery documents from the prosecution, but after court, he wouldn't say when or to whom Howell made the admission.
"For the complaining witness to acknowledge that 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 the case, and will support, in the end, the reliability and the truthfulness of the not-guilty plea entered by Officer LoGiudice," Petrillo said.
Howell, who suffered a broken nose, fractures near both eyes and facial nerve damage in the encounter, has denied fighting police or having drugs. He didn't comment Tuesday.
Bernadette Ford, chief of the Nassau district attorney's Public Corruption Bureau, declined to comment after appearing for the prosecution in the conference before Supervising County Judge Christopher Quinn.
It also came out in court that testing showed DNA from an unknown male in Howell's family was found on a piece of baggie that tested positive for cocaine residue but couldn't conclude whether the DNA was Howell's, authorities said.
District attorney spokesman Shams Tarek said the most thorough test available had been performed. He declined to comment on the defense allegation that Howell lied.
But Howell's supporters, including members of civil rights group National Action Network, fired back at the defense after court. Howell's attorney, Amy Marion of Garden City, called the defense's claim "the slamming of my client who was already brutalized."
The charges against Howell had included assaulting two police officers, tampering with physical evidence, resisting arrest and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Police had alleged in criminal complaints that Howell kicked and punched LoGiudice and Officer Basil Gomez after they tried to retrieve marijuana he put in his mouth. Gomez wasn't criminally charged.
Flanked by fellow officers, LoGiudice -- a seven-year veteran of the department now on modified duty -- left court without commenting.
Activists called for the creation of a civilian complaint review board to "police the police." Attorney Frederick Brewington said the Nassau legislature should make such a board part of the county's charter.
A county spokesman referred questions on that issue to a police spokesman, who declined to comment, as did the legislature's Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves. Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams said the board is a good idea if it's fair to police and civilians.
With Robert Brodsky