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Charges against Baldwin man dropped in officer assault case

Robert Besedin, seen here on Wednesday, June 14,

Robert Besedin, seen here on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at his Baldwin home Credit: Howard Schnapp

A judge dismissed charges against a Baldwin man accused last February of assaulting and harassing a Nassau police officer, after prosecutors said they had determined the man’s behavior was not a crime.

Robert Besedin, 72, an Air Force veteran, had slapped Officer Dominick Mantovani’s hand and pushed him down the front steps of Besedin’s home on Feb. 7 when the officer tried to arrest him, officials had said.

But a lawyer for Besedin said surveillance video of Besedin’s home showed that Mantovani and his partner, Stephen Beckwith, grabbed Besedin by the neck and tackled him to the ground.

On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Karen Lipton asked Nassau District Court Judge Erica Prager for the dismissal, telling the judge that the office was not going to prosecute Besedin because “the acts of the defendant did not rise to the legal standard of harassment”, according to a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

The spokeswoman, Miriam Sholder, declined to say whether the officers’ conduct played a role in the decision to drop the charges.

Prager dismissed the felony second-degree assault, second-degree harassment, and resisting arrest charges against Besedin. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.

Besedin — who spent about a week in jail while waiting for his family to post bail, according to his lawyer — could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

The encounter is being investigated by the Nassau County Police Internal Affairs Unit, said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, the department’s chief spokesman.

The incident began when Besedin called 911 to complain about a neighbor’s garbage ending up in his yard, according to Besedin’s attorney, Frederick Brewington of Hempstead.

Besedin, in an interview in June, said he did nothing to provoke the officers.

At the time, police said Besedin made threats and used profanity during 18 different 911 calls in the five hours before the clash with the officers.

According to the criminal complaints, Mantovani said he stumbled down four steps, which he said resulted in pain and swelling to his back, left wrist and left ankle. Mantovani said he was treated at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, where he said the staff determined he had sprained his ankle.

Besedin said in June he was left with scrapes, bruises and back pain.

Brewington filed a notice of claim in May against Nassau County and its police department, a first step before filing a lawsuit against the government, alleging that the officers violated Besedin’s constitutional rights.

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