A Massapequa man was arrested after an off-duty Nassau County police officer saw him taking unauthorized photos of an 8-year-old girl at a North Massapequa ice-cream parlor Thursday evening, police said.
The officer struggled with the man after noticing the picture-taking about 8 p.m. at Mad Topper on Hicksville Road, police said.
Richard Stacel, 44, of 74 Jerusalem Ave., was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree possession of a dangerous weapon after police found a stun gun in the center console of Stacel's car, police said.
He was ordered held on $15,000 bond or $7,500 cash bail at his arraignment Friday.
Police said the off-duty Seventh Precinct officer was inside the Mad Topper with his family when he saw Stacel taking photographs of the girl with his cellphone. The officer was identified in court papers as Charles Lepper.
Nassau police spokesman Kenneth Lack said Stacel was standing in "close proximity" to the girl, who was with her parents. Lack said the manner in which Stacel was taking pictures was clearly "lewd." Lack did not elaborate.
To avoid a confrontation inside the store, Lepper waited until the suspect exited before approaching him and identifying himself as a police officer.
After being confronted, police said, Stacel broke his phone and its memory card and struggled with the officer, who tried to grab the phone away. Stacel then got into his car, police said, but the officer blocked him from closing the door.
Police said Stacel was "reaching near the center console," when other Seventh Precinct officers arrived and arrested him. Police later found the stun gun, which Lack said the suspect was apparently trying to use to get away. No one was injured.
Lack said police technicians are trying to recover images from the memory card.
With John Valenti