A video recording of what lawyers for a 20-year-old Westbury man say shows the unprovoked beating two Nassau police officers inflicted on him during a traffic stop has sparked authorities to investigate the encounter, officials said.
Police arrested Kyle Howell after an April 25 traffic stop in Westbury and charged him with crimes including assaulting the officers, tampering with physical evidence and resisting arrest, court records show.
Prosecutors launched a probe after seeing the video, and police internal affairs investigators also are looking into the officers' actions.
"We've seen this video and have been investigating both the actions of the officers as well as the charges that the police filed against Mr. Howell," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Monday in a statement.
Police alleged in felony complaints that Howell tried to eat a bag of marijuana and punched and kicked them after "a violent struggle ensued as officers attempted to retrieve the evidence" and arrest him.
Police also alleged potential evidence was partially destroyed by the time they subdued Howell, who caused injuries to the officers that required hospital treatment.
They also charged him with marijuana possession and criminal possession of a controlled substance after reportedly finding a small bag allegedly containing cocaine during a search of Howell's 2002 Honda.
A lawyer for Howell filed a legal claim against the county Monday seeking unspecified damages.
Howell said he didn't put up a fight but suffered a broken nose, bone fractures near both eyes and facial nerve damage.
After Howell's release on $10,000 bond following a hospital arraignment, he and his father got a video from a store security camera that captured his police encounter, according to his family. Howell said he also started recording on his cellphone before the officers came up to his car. He said police began beating him after one officer took away his phone. Howell said the same officer had warned him during a January traffic stop not to record him again.
"He said 'The next time you record me I will use physical force to stop you,' " Howell said.
He recalled getting a knee to his face, being hit repeatedly in the head and hearing police telling him to spit something out.
He said he was only chewing gum, didn't have any drugs, and didn't hit the police back.
Attorney Amy Marion filed the notice of claim with the county Monday claiming Howell was the victim of false arrest, excessive police force, and deprived of his civil rights, including by Nassau University Medical Center employees who concealed illegal police behavior.
Citing pending litigation, spokeswomen for the county and the hospital, which also was named in the claim along with the two officers, declined to comment Monday.
Both officers are on modified duty where they don't have contact with the public and can't earn overtime pending the outcome of the internal affairs probe, Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said.
Court records identified one officer as Vincent Logiudice and gave the other officer's last name as Gomez. County records listed his first name as Basil.
Records show Logiudice joined the police force in 2007 and earns $145,900 a year, and Gomez joined the department in 2005 and earns an annual salary of $160,867.
In 2008, internal affairs probed an alleged beating incident after a complaint involving an officer named Basil Gomez, but a police spokesman said Monday the law kept him from disclosing the outcome.
Court records show Howell pleaded guilty to petty larceny and marijuana possession after police arrested him twice in 2012.