The attorney for a Huntington man who allegedly bit a police officer at Town Hall last month has asked a court to throw out a protection order that bans him from the building, saying it infringes on his client's right to freedom of speech and assembly.
Daniel Karpen, 66, was charged with disorderly conduct, third-degree criminal trespass, resisting arrest and second-degree assault, after Suffolk police said he bit an officer on the arm at the June 17 town board meeting.
Karpen's attorney, Darrin Berger of Huntington, has asked the court to vacate or modify the one-year order of protection issued on July 1, so it allows Karpen to go to Town Hall. A Suffolk County judge has agreed to hold a hearing on the order on Aug. 5, according to Berger and court documents.
Karpen is a longtime presence at public meetings.
"It's really an endeavor to keep Mr. Karpen from being able to advocate at these meetings," Berger said. "I just think they really want to keep him out of Town Hall because he's an irritant to the powers that be."
On June 17, Karpen entered the Town Hall meeting room about 6:40 p.m., and Public Safety Officer John Ramirez asked to inspect his backpack, according to a police report and Berger.
Police said Karpen refused and was asked to step outside, but instead he ran into the meeting room, where people had gathered to discuss a construction project in Elwood.
Suffolk Second Precinct officers, who were at Town Hall, tried to handcuff Karpen. But while they were trying to detain him, Karpen bit a female officer on the arm, police said.
The order mandates that Karpen stay away from Ramirez, including his home and place of employment. It also says Karpen must stay away from Town Hall, at 100 Main St.
"As anyone who has been to a Town Board meeting over the last 30 years has seen, Mr. Karpen has always been allowed to exercise his first amendment rights," a statement from the town said. "The matter at hand involves not free speech, but rather an assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct at a Town Board meeting, and that is being handled by the Suffolk County district attorney's office."
Karpen's next court date in his criminal case is Aug. 21.