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Friday, November 7, 2008

Cop Tells Truth about Fellow Cop Assault

Transit cop testimony backs Michael Mineo's claim he was assaulted in buttocks
The New York Daily News by SCOTT SHIFREL, CORINNE RAMEY AND ALISON GENDAR - November 7, 2008

In secret closed-door testimony Thursday, an NYPD transit cop revealed he saw an officer jab a suspect in the buttocks with his baton, law enforcement sources told the Daily News. The grand jury appearance is the first glimpse into the account of Officer Kevin Maloney - who broke the Blue Wall of Silence to become the key witness in the alleged police assault. Talking to investigators and the grand jury, Maloney gave this version of the Oct. 15 incident: Maloney, 26, said he spotted cops chasing Michael Mineo and subduing him in the Prospect Park subway station. The young cop said he was cuffing Mineo when Officer Richard Kern, 25, unfolded his NYPD-issued baton and poked Mineo on the left buttock, sources said.

As Mineo struggled, Kern then maneuvered the baton between Mineo's buttocks, the officer testified, according to sources. The baton is about 2 feet long and 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Until now, it was believed Mineo had been assaulted with the antenna of a police radio.Mineo's pants were riding low from his struggle with cops, but his underwear was on, sources said. Maloney could not see if Kern struck Mineo's pants or underwear, sources said. When the baton came out, witnesses said Mineo screamed, "What are you doing? Sticking a radio up my a--?" The entire incident took seconds, but once the cuffs went on, Kern; Police Officer Alex Cruz, 26, and Officer Andrew Morales, 26, hustled Mineo upstairs, Maloney said, sources said. The whereabouts of a fifth officer, Noel Jugraj, 30, were not disclosed. On the street, Kern and the other officers from Brooklyn's 71st Precinct checked Mineo's record. But despite two open warrants, Kern let Mineo go with a summons for disorderly conduct, sources said. Cruz later came back into the subway station. "What did he do?" Maloney asked, and said he was stunned to learn the aggressive arrest was for smoking marijuana. Cruz searched for Mineo's discarded marijuana cigarette but did not find it, sources said.

Maloney's damning testimony came after Mineo, a 24-year-old tattoo parlor employee, gave the grand jury his version. "I was violated by police, and I feel like they're going to be brought to justice," Mineo said after he testified. "I'm not the same. I'm not the same me. I was violated by police." Mineo was hospitalized two times with what sources described as "rectal tears" as a result of the assault. Kern's lawyer said the accounts were fabricated. "Any claim that Kern did anything improper to Mr. Mineo is completely false," said lawyer John Patten. "Anyone saying my client assaulted this fellow improperly is not telling the truth. It's a complete fabrication." Patten said that Kern's locker was searched and that two batons and two flashlights were taken. The four Brooklyn 71st Precinct officers - stripped of their guns and badges earlier this week - could face assault charges in the Mineo case, sources said. Maloney is not the target of the investigation, sources said. Maloney's lawyer, Paul Martin, said his client at first didn't know what he had seen but came forward when he read newspaper accounts. He waived immunity to testify before the grand jury but is unlikely to be charged. The city paid out about $50,000 this year to settle two excessive-force lawsuits against Kern, who joined the NYPD in 2005, the Daily News reported Thursday. Patten said Kern had been cleared in the instances by the city's Civilian Complaint Review Board. With Veronika Belenkaya

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