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Akbar Rogers case headed back to court

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A little over a month after 44-year-old Akbar Rogers, of Freeport, was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, aggravated unlicensed driving and resisting arrest, he is due back in Nassau County’s First District Court on Jan. 16.

Rogers’s arrest prompted loud cries from Freeport African-American leaders, who made claims of racism and police brutality after seven white Village of Freeport police officers were seen on video tackling Rogers, who is black, during his arrest.

Rogers’s case reports, obtained by the Herald, reveal greater details about his history with Freeport police. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest on Aug. 15 last year, so he may face additional charges of aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle and speeding. Those charges dated back to July 1, 2018, when he was first arrested by Freeport police. His license had been suspended.

Then, on Oct. 13, Freeport police responded to a call from a 35-year-old woman who charged that Rogers had pushed her to the ground “multiple times” during an argument over money. The woman told police that she was six weeks pregnant. She sustained injuries to her hip and wrist, and was experiencing “substantial pain,” according to the police report.

In her supporting deposition to police, the woman stated that Rogers “physically pushed me to the ground. I tried to get up from the ground, but [he] pushed me again to keep me on the ground.”

Rogers then left her home and drove off, according to the woman.

Freeport police spent the following weeks looking for Rogers, until he was spotted driving a white Mercedes-Benz on Nov. 3 with an unknown woman in the front passenger seat. The plainclothes officers turned their lights on and attempted to stop Rogers at West Merrick Road and Church Street. He did not stop, however, and headed south on Church Street before making a right onto Smith Street, ignoring the stop sign. He continued west on Smith Street, failing to stop for a red light, according to his case report.

In addition, police said, Rogers was driving recklessly and at an “unreasonable speed.” Because of that “excessive speed,” police called off the pursuit, according to Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy.

When officers again spotted Rogers on Dec. 3, he ran off, police said. After running through neighborhoods and across backyards, officers eventually caught up with him. They ordered him to stop several times, officials said, but Rogers refused, and reached into his waistband before being wrestled to the ground.

A bystander captured the video of the incident, which was posted on social media. It shows Rogers being tackled — and punched by one officer and kicked by another — during the altercation.

The Rev. Arthur Mackey Jr., of Mount Sinai Baptist Church Cathedral in Roosevelt, who spoke at a Dec. 6 protest, said he believed racial bias factored into Rogers’s arrest. Mackey said the police “could have just put the handcuffs on him.”

On Dec. 23, Judge Anthony Paradiso ruled that the case could be turned over to a grand jury.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Kennedy called for an independent investigation after Rogers’s arrest. The Nassau County district attorney’s office has been conducting the probe. 

Attorney Stephen LaMagna, who is representing Rogers, could not be reached for comment at press time. 

Attorney William Petrillo, who is representing the officers, said “the officers used reasonable and necessary force to subdue [Rogers].

“These are well-respected officers who have dedicated their lives to the Freeport community,” Petrillo said. “They were in a struggle with a violent man who was wanted. This man was strong, and ignored multiple commands to stop resisting.”