The trial of a Salvadoran national whose attorneys claim he was the victim of police brutality should start Friday, after a Nassau judge's decision Thursday that written statements police officials made for an internal affairs probe on the case had to be turned over and could be used in the proceeding.
Lawyers for Willian Guillen, 33, of Hicksville, say he is facing trial on misdemeanor charges of assault and resisting arrest, along with a harassment violation. The defense says he was beaten by police even after he was in custody.
District Court Judge Sharon Gianelli verbally ruled Thursday in a Hempstead court that the contents of the police statements "do not qualify as personnel records" that have to be kept confidential under a section of state civil rights law, and needed to be disclosed to attorneys on both sides for the trial.
In an earlier written order Thursday, Gianelli explained that the Nassau district attorney's office became aware right before the trial was supposed to start Thursday that three written police statements hadn't been turned over the defense.
It further said prosecutors knew a handful of other police statements on the case also existed, but the Nassau County Police Department was refusing to turn them over to the district attorney's office.
Police officials later waived an offer for a hearing and a police official turned over five statements in court, after police requested that Gianelli issue an order requiring them to turn over the statements so she could privately examine them.
After examining the eight statements, Gianelli decided that they pertain to police accounts of what happened in Guillen's case and could be used in his trial.
Police have alleged Guillen violently resisted arrest and bit a police sergeant's leg during his apprehension in Westbury after an officer saw him in what looked like a hand-to-hand drug transaction. Police also have said Guillen threw down a baggie suspected to contain cocaine while fleeing from them and they never recovered it because of traffic at the scene.
Guillen's lawyers say he speaks little English and didn't know the men chasing him were police. They claim police beat Guillen even after he was handcuffed, inflicting injuries that included broken ribs. They said Guillen, who works as a cook and has no criminal record, crossed illegally into the United States in 2002 and there is an order for his deportation, which they also plan to fight.
The Nassau district attorney's office recently agreed to drop a charge of obstructing governmental administration, following a previous reduction in charges after what started in March as a felony case against Guillen.
His attorneys said Thursday that Gianelli has so far reserved ruling on their motion that asks her to dismiss all charges in the interest of justice.
Prosecutors had opposed dropping all the charges, arguing there was no injustice in prosecuting someone "who assaulted a police officer in front of three other officers and then gave a statement admitting to biting the officer."