A lawyer for Kyle Howell, whose April beating by police was captured on video, called on Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice to appoint a special prosecutor, claiming Rice, who is running for Congress, "failed to effectively" prosecute the case.
Nassau police officer Vincent LoGiudice, 34, has pleaded not guilty to felony assault charges in the beating of Kyle Howell, 21, of Westbury, during an April 25 traffic stop captured on video.
Howell's attorney, Amy Marion, said Wednesday Rice failed in several key areas, including not asking the FBI to enhance the video of the beating, not investigating possible evidence tampering by police and not considering classifying the beating as a hate crime. Marion also reiterated a request for a federal probe that could include hate-crimes charges.
"They are virtually dumping this case, failing to prosecute it and treating it starkly different than this office prosecutes its other cases," said Marion.
Shams Tarek, a spokeswoman for Rice, said in a statement there is "no justification" for a special prosecutor and rejected Marion's complaints.
"The police protested because they felt the DA was being too aggressive against them and now the other side is protesting that she's not being aggressive enough," the statement said. "It sounds like the DA's being precisely the type of independent fact-finder and prosecutor that the public deserves."
A spokeswoman for Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch did not respond to a message seeking comment on whether her office would investigate.
Police said that during the traffic stop Howell tried to eat a bag of marijuana, which resulted in a violent struggle. Howell was charged with assault and resisting arrest, but the charges were dropped.
Howell initially denied having drugs or fighting with police during the traffic stop. But in a May 14 interview with prosecutors, he said he had marijuana and police saw it when he opened his glove box to get his car's registration.
William Petrillo, LoGiudice's attorney, dismissed Marion's allegations of evidence tampering as "lies" and denied race played a role in the case.
"The only one who tampered with evidence is the complainant, when he admittedly lunged across the car to destroy his marijuana," Petrillo said. "Not only isn't this a hate crime, it's not a crime at all."He added: "All force used in this case was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances."