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Nassau judge: Assault charges against cop can proceed

Nassau Police Officer Vincent LoGiudice appears for a

Nassau Police Officer Vincent LoGiudice appears for a court conference in Mineola on Tuesday, July 15, 2014. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A judge won't dismiss charges against a Nassau police officer after an alleged assault on a motorist, saying evidence a grand jury heard "is legally sufficient" to support accusations in Vincent LoGiudice's indictment.

LoGiudice, 34, a seven-year police force veteran, previously pleaded not guilty to three assault counts -- including two felonies -- in connection with an April 25 traffic stop in Westbury that a store surveillance camera captured on video.

Supervising Nassau County Judge Christopher Quinn's decision Monday followed his review of the minutes from the grand jury proceeding and accompanied rulings on other case motions.

"When a court upholds an indictment, it's a very, very low threshold . . . The evidence can be minimal," said LoGiudice's attorney, William Petrillo of Garden City. The Nassau district attorney's office declined to comment Monday.

Prosecutors have alleged LoGiudice repeatedly struck Kyle Howell, 20, of Westbury, including by using a "hard object" to hit him in the head and face, causing facial fractures. Howell's attorney in May filed a notice of claim against the county, saying he was a victim of false arrest and excessive police force.

Police arrested Howell on charges that included assaulting LoGiudice and Officer Basil Gomez, tampering with physical evidence, resisting arrest, and marijuana possession, but a judge later dropped the charges at the district attorney's request.

Police said Howell tried to eat a bag of marijuana and a violent struggle started as officers tried to retrieve it and arrest him.

Howell told the news media he didn't fight the police and had no drugs. But he told prosecutors later he lied at the news conference and had marijuana with him during the traffic stop -- which he said happened while he was on probation.

Quinn also ruled that any youthful offender or juvenile court files that exist for Howell should be unsealed and given to the trial judge to decide if they should be disclosed. He said the defense couldn't, at this time, have details that were redacted from Howell's medical records to see if they could be used to impeach his credibility or memory of the incident.

Quinn also ordered that records the district attorney's office subpoenaed from the police be sent to the court, where they'll be reviewed before a decision on whether they can be released to the lawyers, a court spokesman confirmed.

Police previously have said internal affairs investigators are probing the incident.

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