Rockville Centre Police Officer Anthony Federico, who pleaded not guilty last year to charges including felony assault against village resident Kevin Kavanagh arising from an arrest in 2016, as well as falsifying police records, will head to trial on Jan. 24 in Mineola, according to Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney.
Federico was indicted last March, nearly a year after he got into a skirmish with two brothers outside a bar on South Park Avenue when he responded to a call about a fight. According to District Attorney Madeline Singas, Federico used excessive force when he allegedly struck Kavanagh on the head with his Taser on May 8, 2016, opening a 6-centimeter laceration that required sutures and staples to close.
Last April, a smartphone video surfaced that showed the confrontation. The video, taken by a witness outside the bar, appeared to show Federico pushing Kavanagh’s younger brother, Brendan, into a corner. Brendan reached out and put his hands on the back of Federico’s neck, before the officer knocked him to the ground. As Brendan was falling, Kevin Kavanagh tried to kick Federico, who grabbed him, punched him a number of times, repeatedly shocked him with a Taser and struck him on the head with it.
According to police reports, Kavanagh was charged with attempted assault on Federico and resisting arrest. His brother was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing law enforcement and possession of fake identification. Federico was charged with second- and third-degree assault, two counts of second-degree filing a false instrument and two counts of second-degree filing a false business instrument.
The trial comes nearly a year after the indictment, when protesters, many with signs showing support for Federico, gathered outside Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola. Lawn signs in Rockville Centre and other communities have echoed that sentiment over the past 10 months, and thousands of dollars have been raised by the Rockville Centre Police Benevolent Association to help pay Federico’s legal fees.
“We are extremely confident that when the true facts unfold in the courtroom, everyone will see that Officer Federico is innocent,” said William Petrillo, a Garden City attorney who is representing Federico, “and that the only ones who committed crimes were the highly intoxicated complainants.”
More claims against Federico in separate incident
Last September, about six months after the indictment, Luis A. Nunez, identified only as a Nassau County resident, submitted a petition to file a late notice of claim to sue the Village of Rockville Centre and the Police Department, alleging that he was “attacked, subjected to various violations of his Constitutional rights, assault, battery, abuse of process, excessive and unreasonable force, false arrest, malicious prosecution, mental abuse … by [Federico].”
Nassau County Supreme Court Judge R. Bruce Cozzens Jr. has not yet ruled on the petition.
“This is a pending criminal matter, and it would be inappropriate to comment at this time,” Village spokeswoman Julie Scully wrote in an email to the Herald.
According to the petition, Nunez was riding his motorcycle on Sunrise Highway late at night on Aug. 4, 2016, when he stopped at a red light at Grand Avenue in Baldwin. Federico pulled up in front of Nunez, it states, and got out of his police vehicle with his gun drawn. He pushed Nunez and his motorcycle to the ground before forcing him to lie face-down on the street, close to passing cars.
“As he stood with his gun pointed at me he said, ‘I’m going to f-cking shoot you,’” the petition states. “The officer’s actions placed me in fear and were intimidating. I continually asked what was going on and why was I being treated this way and Police Officer Federico responded by telling me to ‘shut the f-ck up’ and that he was going to ‘ruin my f-cking life.’”
The petition states that Federico claimed that Nunez drove his motorcycle into him to escape arrest, which is why he pushed Nunez and his motorcycle to the ground.
Nunez was charged with second-degree assault and a number of traffic violations, including aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, speeding and changing lanes unsafely. He pleaded not guilty, was held on $25,000 bond and spent about seven days in jail, according to court documents. The district attorney dismissed all charges against Nunez on Aug. 14, 2017, about a year after they were filed.
“Officer [Federico] told me he would ruin my life and I was afraid if I did anything he would come for me,” the petition states. “ … His acts were aimed at intimidating me and I was intimidated to the point of being afraid that basically paralyzed [me].”
William Croutier Jr., who is representing the village and the police department, submitted opposition to Nunez’s petition on Nov. 2. Since Nunez was released from custody on or about Aug. 11, 2016, he said, a one-year statute of limitations for actions based on false arrest and unlawful imprisonment expired on Aug. 11, 2017, and are now time-barred.
He added that Nunez did not file a notice of claim to the village within 90 days, which would have given the village a chance to investigate the claims while information was readily available.
Croutier also noted in the petition that Nunez does not present any facts to substantiate his fear of Federico, and that “any supposed fear . . . was totally unfounded and would certainly not constitute a legally sufficient excuse for failing to file a timely Notice of Claim.”
Jim Carty, the Rockville Centre Police Benevolent Association president, who helped lead an effort to raise money for Federico’s legal fees, said he was unaware of Nunez’s claims against the officer. “There’s always lawsuits when people think that they were arrested wrongly,” he said.
Petrillo, Federico’s attorney, said that Nunez was simply “jumping on the bandwagon.” He added, “This frivolous lawsuit, filed one year late by a man who drove recklessly through Rockville Centre at over 80 miles per hour and eventually struck a police officer with his motorcycle after being pulled over, has no merit and will be dismissed.”
Frederick Brewington, who is representing Nunez, had not responded to the Herald’s request for comment at press time.
Federico is still working for the Police Department, according to the village, but is on modified status and working a desk.