Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas’s office said that a criminal case against Long Beach Police Commissioner Mike Tangney was "unwarranted" after a Syosset man claimed that the city’s top cop punched him during a traffic stop in the West End last year.
The Dec. 19 incident occurred just hours before the City Council appointed Tangney acting city manager.
Kevin Holian — a 64-year-old retired IRS employee who allegedly ran through a stop sign — said he was traveling on West Beech Street at around 10 a.m. when a man in a silver Lexus SUV — later identified as Tangney — began excessively honking his horn and screaming profanities, Holian’s attorney, Charo Ezdrin, told reporters at a news conference after the incident.
Tangney, a 40-year member of the Police Department, has strongly denied the allegations and the city said it referred the case to Singas’s office.
In a March 9 letter obtained by the Herald, Assistant District Attorney Christine Maloney, the chief of the Public Corruption Bureau, told the city’s attorney, Rob Agostisi, and Ezdrin that after a three-month investigation, the case was closed and that there was no evidence to support a criminal prosecution “of any member of the Long Beach Police Department.”
“Please be advised that the district attorney’s office has completed its investigation … and has determined that further action by the district attorney’s office is unwarranted,” wrote Maloney, who referred the case to Agostisi and the Long Beach Police Department for “whatever administrative action, if any, is deemed appropriate.”
City officials declined to comment on Friday.
Holian claimed that he pulled over at the intersection of West Beech Street and Edwards Boulevard. He got out of his vehicle and approached Tangney’s vehicle “to see what was going on,” Ezdrin told reporters at the time.
“As I started to approach his vehicle, he got out of his vehicle screaming at me to 'get back in the car or I will shoot you,'” Holian said. “I feared for my life and I got back into my car.”
Holian said he returned to his car and took photographs of Tangney’s vehicle with his cellphone.
“As I reached for the glove compartment to retrieve my registration, I felt a sharp pain to the left side of my face,” Holian said at the time. “At this point I realized I was just struck by him.”
According to Holian, Tangney drove away, and an unidentified uniformed Long Beach police officer arrived at the scene and issued him a ticket for disobeying a stop sign. Holian claimed that he told the officer that he was bleeding, but the officer ignored him.
Holian said he drove to the Nassau County Police Department precinct in Syosset and filed a complaint. County police called an ambulance, and Holian was taken to Syosset Hospital, where he was treated for a bloody nose, shortness of breath and pain.
Ezdrin could not immediately be reached for comment.
“I’m not shocked,” she told Newsday. “As far as the evidential value, there’s no reason the police commissioner should be pulling anyone over.”
On March 2, Holian filed a notice of claim against the city and intends to sue for damages ranging from false arrest and imprisonment to assault, battery and excessive use of force. Holian — who has said that he would not receive a fair trial in Long Beach City Court and is seeking a change of venue for his traffic ticket — also claimed that his civil rights were violated, that he now suffers from anxiety and emotional distress and has racked up legal fees.
“The stop, imprisonment and physical contact were all without just cause,” the claim states. “The City of Long Beach and the Long Beach Police Department were negligent in investigating, hiring, and retaining a person who was unfit to serve as a patrol officer and should have known had dangerous propensities and lack of proper temperament and deportment.”
Tangney has denied hitting Holian and said that he would be cleared of the allegations. Two witnesses at the scene also disputed Holian’s claims at the time and said that Tangney never punched the man.