GARDEN CITY - A man beaten by police during a traffic stop caught on video is asking federal prosecutors to take over the case because he believes the local district attorney doesn't consider him the victim of a hate crime.
An attorney for Kyle Howell, 21, said at a news conference Wednesday that Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice should be replaced as the lead prosecutor in the case against Officer Vincent LoGiudice.
LoGuidice has pleaded not guilty to assault charges for punching and kicking Howell during an April traffic stop in Westbury.
During the encounter, which was captured on nearby surveillance cameras, LoGiudice and another white officer are seen speaking with Howell briefly before LoGiudice walks behinds the car and then runs back to the passenger-side door. The officers then appear to begin punching and kicking Howell, who is black.
LoGuidice's partner was not charged.
Howell was arrested on assault, resisting arrest and drug charges. The officers said Howell was involved in a "violent struggle" when he tried to swallow a bag of marijuana.
Howell initially denied those allegations at a news conference in May, but he later told prosecutors he lied and was trying to toss the drugs when the officers pummeled him. Criminal charges against him were dropped in May, weeks before the officer was arrested.
Howell's attorney, Amy Marion, said Rice has "decided to abandon her duty" by not recognizing Howell as the victim of a "racially motivated beating." She said Nassau prosecutors are treating the case "starkly different" than others and that additional charges should have been brought.
Howell is now asking Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, to take over the case and begin investigating it as a possible federal hate crime. A spokeswoman for Lynch didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
"If this was a young white male, he would not have been assaulted in this way - absolutely not," Marion said.
LoGuidice's lawyer disputed Marion's assertions.
"Not only isn't this a hate crime, it's not a crime at all," William Petrillo, said. "All force used was necessary and reasonable."
A spokesman for Rice, who is running for Congress, said Marion was making "irresponsible and false allegations" that "will not help seek justice in this case." Paul Leonard insisted there was no justification for another prosecutor to step in.
Howell has filed notice that he intends to sue the police department.
By Michael Balsamo - AP via ABC News/Oct. 15, 2014
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