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Justice Served: Long Island officer acquitted in police brutality case involving viral video


Bridget Murphy

A Nassau judge acquitted a veteran Rockville Centre officer Tuesday of police brutality and other charges, ending a trial that focused on his actions during a struggle with two brothers — much of it captured in a cellphone video.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Quinn found Officer Anthony Federico not guilty of felony assault, as well as misdemeanor charges of assault, falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing.

Federico left the courthouse without commenting as some of his many supporters, including fellow cops, applauded the verdict. Defense attorney William Petrillo said his client, who hugged him after the verdict, was “extremely emotional” and “pleased that justice finally was served.”

He added: “Officer Federico looks forward now to continuing his life, and serving the community in the exemplary fashion that he always has.”

The Garden City lawyer also called the prosecution an “abomination,” accusing the Nassau district attorney’s office of “ignoring evidence” of Federico’s innocence and saying the case created “tremendous distrust” between local police and prosecutors.

Prosecutors had alleged Federico used excessive force on May 8, 2016, when he struck Kevin Kavanagh, an intoxicated college student, in the head with his Taser when the man was on the ground in a fetal position.

They also said Federico, 37, of Nesconset, lied on police paperwork by stating Kevin Kavanagh’s head injury happened during an earlier street brawl.

Testimony showed Federico got into the struggle with the village resident, then 25, and Kavanagh’s brother Brendan, then 20, after responding to the scene following the siblings’ fight with other bar patrons.

Prosecutors had alleged Federico used his Taser on both siblings legally at first, before illegally hitting the older brother and causing a 6-centimeter wound that penetrated to his skull.

“We respect the judge’s verdict just as we respected the grand jury’s decision to indict after it reviewed the video and evidence. Our office will continue to enforce the law and seek justice without fear or favor,” Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for District Attorney Madeline Singas, said Tuesday.

Petrillo had insisted during the trial that Federico used “reasonable and justified” force to subdue the brothers and arrest them and their friend, Alyson Gallo, then 25. Their charges were later dropped.

The Smithtown woman made the cellphone recording that became critical evidence. But it didn’t capture what prosecutors had alleged was Federico’s criminal Taser hit, and both sides said the recording proved their contentions.

Garden City attorney Joseph Dell, who represents the Kavanaghs and Gallo in a federal lawsuit against the village, police force and Federico, said his clients were disappointed by the verdict but their litigation would go forward.

Petrillo had said during the trial that the video showed Federico “literally under attack” while defending himself alone during a physical confrontation with the brothers as Gallo shouted anti-police vulgarities.

In contrast, Prosecutor Robert Cavallo had told Quinn that Federico “was guided by anger, revenge, poor judgment and a distorted sense of justice” in the South Park Avenue encounter, and made the decision “to punish Kevin Kavanagh for daring to lay a hand on him.”

Federico joined the village’s police force five years ago after eight years with the NYPD. Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario said Federico would be restored to full duty, and thanked village residents for supporting the officer and the department.

By Bridget Murphy bridget.murphy@newsday.com @ByBridgetMurphy

Bridget Murphy is a Newsday criminal justice reporter.


©2018 Newsday

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