WESTBURY - A Nassau police officer accused of beating a driver during a traffic stop was found not guilty on all charges today following a non-jury trial.
The judge handed down the verdict this morning in the brutality case against Police Officer Vincent LoGiudice.
LoGiudice was accused of repeatedly punching and hitting Kyle Howell, of Westbury. The incident was caught on camera during a traffic stop in Westbury back in April 2014.
Lawyers for LoGiudice insisted the use of force was justified because Howell reached for the glove box and the officer feared for his life. Howell admitted that he threw himself across the console of the car to grab a bag of marijuana from the glove box because he didn't want to get arrested and violate probation.
"This verdict validates what we have said from Day 1, which is that the force that was used in this case was in fact reasonable, necessary and justified," said LoGiudice attorney William Petrillo.
In the courtroom, the judge said they were in a criminal court and not a court of public opinion, and that the verdict was based on the evidence.
Howell's family and supporters called the verdict "injustice at the highest level." The Howell family has filed a civil suit against the county.
Nassau police said the department "has commenced an administrative investigation" of LoGiudice. He will remain on modified duty during the internal probe. LoGiudice had faced up to seven years in prison if he was convicted of the top felony charge.