The Nassau County District Attorney’s office is investigating an altercation involving Long Beach Police Commissioner Michael Tangney and accusations he punched a motorist Tuesday afternoon, city officials said Friday.
Representatives of District Attorney Madeline Singas declined to comment. City officials said they could not comment further about the investigation.
Tangney remains police commissioner and has been appointed to serve as acting city manager starting next month.
He has denied making any physical contact with the driver, Kevin M. Holian, 64, of Syosset, who said Thursday he had been punched in the face during a traffic stop Tuesday morning.
Tangney declined to comment further Friday, citing the advice of his attorney.
The City of Long Beach released a statement Friday stating Tangney has nothing further to add to his comments to Newsday on Thursday denying the incident.
Holian’s Syosset-based attorney, Charo Ezdrin, held a news conference Friday afternoon in Syosset to discuss the allegations. Holian did not attend but read a statement via speakerphone and did not take questions. Ezdrin said Holian was hospitalized Thursday for high blood pressure and stress following the altercation.
“I saw a man starting to approach my vehicle and was screaming to get back in my car or he would shoot me,” Holian said. “I feared for my life and took a photo of his license plate.”
Ezdrin provided photos of the citation Long Beach police issued Holian for running a stop sign, saying the image shows blood droplets on the ticket. The attorney also provided photos of Tangney leaving his unmarked Lexus police vehicle after pulling over Holian.
Ezdrin has not released a copy of reports to Nassau County police or the district attorney’s office, citing concern for the integrity of the investigation. She denied Holian ran through a stop sign.
Tangney said Thursday night he stopped Holian on Edwards Boulevard about 10 a.m. Tuesday for running a stop sign and approached the vehicle showing his police identification.
Holian said Tangney was shouting profanities and punched him when he reached for his license and registration, but Tangney said he never reached inside the vehicle and noticed Holian bleeding before leaving the scene.
“As I reached for the glove compartment, I felt a sharp pain and realized I was struck by him, causing my glasses to fall off my face,” Holian said.
Holian was issued a citation for running a stop sign by another officer Tangney called for backup. Tangney signed the ticket as a witness.
Ezdrin said Holian immediately reported the altercation to Nassau County police in the 2nd Precinct in Syosset. She said detectives photographed his injuries and called an ambulance to take him to Syosset Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Two residents who previously knew Tangney have said that they were stopped behind both vehicles and did not see any physical altercation.
Ezdrin said Holian did not see any other vehicles during the stop. She said Holian is a U.S. Army veteran and retired IRS agent, and has no previous ties to Long Beach or Tangney.
“Let the Nassau district attorney do their job and the truth will prevail,” Ezdrin said. “He has no reason to make up a story like this.”