Three Cops Not Liable in New York Police Assault Civil Trial

July 2, 2010

A federal civil jury on Wednesday cleared three New York City officers of any liability in an alleged subway assault but deadlocked on an excessive force claim for the fourth officer.

Michael Mineo, 25, filed a $440 million lawsuit against the city, the NYPD and the four officers involved in an October 2008 incident in which he said he was sodomized with a police baton during an arrest in a subway station. Three of the officers, Alex Cruz, Andrew Morales and Richard Kern, were tried and acquitted of criminal charges in the case earlier this year. The fourth officer, Noel Jugraj, was never tried criminally.

Mineo will not get any settlement money, and Brooklyn Federal Judge Jack Weinstein ruled he must pay legal fees for the three officers.

The civil jury could not decide whether Kern, accused of shoving the baton into Mineo’s backside, should be held liable for excessive force. Another civil trial will be held on that claim, Mineo’s lawyers said.

Jurors found Kern liable for malicious prosecution for giving Mineo a summons for marijuana, but Weinstein tossed the decision.

Mineo’s attorneys had argued the NYPD tampered with evidence in the case — Mineo’s boxer shorts. Weinstein said he would ask the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate tampering claims, but that would also include the possibility that Mineo himself tampered with the boxer shorts — possibly to make his claims seem more plausible.

The new civil trial will not begin until the tampering investigation is completed, lawyers said.

Mineo’s attorneys said they remained positive and expected Kern to be found liable in a new civil trial.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said the suit was opportunistic and praised the jury’s decision.

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