Rockville Centre Officer Anthony Federico was charged with felony assault after he was accused of using excessive force in responding to a street fight outside a bar in May 2016. Prosecutors said he then 25-year-old Kevin Kavanagh in the head with his stun gun while Kavanagh was on the ground, then filed false paperwork about the head injury.
The defense argued Kavanagh had hit Federico in the face and later grabbed the officer in a headlock.
Eyewitness News obtained cell phone video from the night of the incident, which showed Federico tasing one man and then punching the other.
A crowd applauded the verdict, with many of them fellow cops and friends who say they are concerned this case had a chilling effect on law enforcement.
"Every police officer that showed up realized it could be them, and the district attorney could be going after them," Rockville Centre Police Commissioner Charles Gennario said.
Prosecutors argued Federico was unnecessarily aggressive, while the defense countered that one of the men punched Federico before the camera started rolling and that the officer responded using reasonable force.
Closing arguments in the trial in Nassau County concluded Monday.
"We feel very strongly about this case, that it never should have been presented to a grand jury in the first place," Federico's attorney William Petrillo said. "We feel very confident that everything the police officer did that night was reasonable and responsive to the attack he was under."
The defense accused the district attorney of micro-managing police who are doing their job.
The Commissioner now has another concern. "Our police officers always used to carry tasers, it's a voluntary policy," said Gennario. "A lot of 'em don't carry them now so I have to go back working to get them to carry tasers again so they have confidence."
Federico was also charged with falsifying business records after prosecutors said he lied about the incident on two police reports.
If found guilty, Federico was facing up to seven years in prison.
Take a look at some of the reaction in the courthouse after Federico was cleared:
This was just some of the reaction outside the courthouse when Rockville Centre police officer Anthony Federico was cleared on all criminal counts. Acquitted on felony assault after he was called to police a street fight back in 2016. But still faces a civil suit. pic.twitter.com/MIxu9KtOrs— Stacey Sager (@staceysager7) February 6, 2018
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