An appellate court has reinstated an official misconduct charge against a Hempstead Village police officer who is accused of groping a woman outside a restaurant while off-duty in 2015.
Evidence before a grand jury was sufficient to charge Officer Louis Arcila, now 50, with the misdemeanor that a Nassau judge had tossed last year, a Brooklyn appellate court ruled Wednesday.
In the latest decision, the court found that evidence before the grand jury indicated Arcila had his police badge displayed, represented that he was an officer and told the accuser he could give her a “ticket.”
When viewed in a light most favorable to prosecutors, that evidence established the charge, including the element that Arcila committed “an act relating to his office,” the ruling said.
Arcila previously pleaded not guilty to the misconduct charge along with misdemeanor counts of sex abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. As his case remains pending in Nassau County Court, Arcila is on desk duty, according to his lawyer.
At the time of his 2015 arraignment, Arcila had been on the Hempstead police force for 16 years after nine years with the NYPD.
Authorities have alleged that on June 28, 2015, while he was out of uniform but with his police badge on his hip, Arcila followed a woman from El Rancho Catracho restaurant in Hempstead. He then got into her car and inappropriately touched her without her consent and in front of her children, who were 3 and 10 at the time, authorities said.
The district attorney’s office has said Arcila, of Roslyn Heights, had mentioned during a conversation inside the restaurant that he was a cop, and argued he used his “apparent authority” as an officer to access the woman so he could grope her.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy had ruled for the defense in 2016, finding while Arcila carried the badge on his belt, “there was no evidence offered that he presented his badge in any official capacity to the complainant in order to engage her in conversation.”
The Nassau district attorney’s office then appealed Murphy’s ruling.
“Obviously we believe that Judge Murphy was correct in his decision, but we will respect the decision of the appellate division and litigate this matter back before Judge Murphy to its ultimate conclusion, likely at a trial,” Arcila’s attorney, Joseph Lo Piccolo of Garden City, said Thursday.
The Nassau district attorney’s office said in a statement Thursday it welcomed the appellate division’s ruling and “will be prepared to proceed accordingly.”