The man at the center of a police brutality case against a veteran Rockville Centre officer testified Monday he didn’t remember his physical encounter with the law enforcement official after a night of drinking, using cocaine and getting “flipped” in an earlier street fight.
“I don’t remember encountering Officer Federico,” alleged victim Kevin Kavanagh, 27, a Rockville Centre resident and former Stony Brook University ice hockey player, said in Nassau County Court.
Kavanagh said he regained consciousness while handcuffed in the back of the officer’s sport utility vehicle on May 8, 2016, finding himself “bleeding profusely” before “screaming for help.”
Officer Anthony Federico, 37, is on trial on a felony assault count, along with misdemeanor charges of assault, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records.
A key piece of evidence in the case is the cellphone video that a friend of the alleged victim recorded that shows Kavanagh, then 25, and his younger brother Brendan, then 20, in a confrontation with the officer on South Park Avenue after he arrived to investigate the street fight involving the brothers.
The prosecution claims a struggle began between the Kavanaghs and Federico that led the officer to use his Taser on both of them legally, before the officer acted out of anger and illegally struck the older brother on the head with the device while Kevin Kavanagh was lying in a fetal position — causing a 6-centimeter head laceration.
The defense claims Federico, alone and while “literally under attack,” used “reasonable and justified” force to arrest the brothers and Alyson Gallo, their then 25-year-old friend who recorded the cellphone video and shouted anti-police vulgarities during the struggle.
The defense also contends Kevin Kavanagh punched Federico in the face before the recording started. While testimony has shown that the cellphone video didn’t capture the allegedly criminal Taser strike, the prosecution has said evidence will prove Federico inflicted it.
Kevin Kavanagh told prosecutor Robert Cavallo on Monday the last thing he remembered before losing consciousness was getting flipped over while trying to tackle someone in the initial street altercation after leaving a bar. But he also told defense attorney William Petrillo he remembered hitting his head hard in that dispute.
Kavanagh said Federico drove “like a maniac,” taking him and his younger brother to a local hospital in his police SUV — a trip in which the witness said he went “flying across the backseat” and banged his head on a window.
The witness also testified he’d since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, had nightmares in which he would see Federico’s face “all the time,” and once “almost fainted” and made a quick exit when he saw the officer at a village pizzeria.
Kavanagh said he started seeing signs in Rockville Centre supporting Federico following the officer’s indictment, and it “hurts” that his “own town” is “blindly supporting” Federico.
Under cross-examination, the witness acknowledged he only sought psychological counseling two days before he testified in a civil proceeding related to his lawsuit against the officer, police department and village.