NYPD Officers Acquitted in Subway Sodomy Case

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Jurors in a controversial sodomy case in New York City have found three police officers not guilty on various charges.

Standing trial were Officers Richard Kern, Andrew Morales and Alex Cruz. Kern was accused of attacking and sodomizing a drug suspect on a subway platform, while Morales and Cruz were charged with having covered up the crime.

The incident took place in October 2008, when Michael Mineo—a self-professed member of the infamous Crips gang who has a previous criminal record and who admits to being a drug user—was smoking marijuana on a Brooklyn street. When police officers approached him, he ran, but the officers caught up with him in the subway station. After being handcuffed, Mineo claims, he was sodomized with a baton by Kern. Afterwards the officers dragged him to a squad car, but changed their minds about arresting him because they feared the repercussions of their actions.

Mineo went to the hospital for treatment of injuries he allegedly sustained during the encounter, and later returned for further medical treatment for an abscess.

The officers on trial countered that they released Mineo, despite the fact that he had a warrant out for his arrest, because marijuana possession arrests are low on the department’s priority list.

Initially, the NYPD was skeptical about Mineo’s account of what occurred, and never removed the officers from their active duty assignments.

Although a transit system police officer, who was an eyewitness to the event, testified for the prosecution, the jurors in the case delivered a handwritten statement to court officers saying that they could not find the officers guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Mineo’s testimony, which was often agitated and emotional, also lacked substantive credibility. He had told jurors that he was not carrying identification, but one of the exhibits produced by the defense team showed a photograph of Kern inspecting an ID card that Mineo had handed him.

The Assistant District Attorney in the case, Charles Guria, made the argument that Mineo should not be penalized for his criminal past and his gang membership. If he were, Guria said, “anybody who has ever made a mistake in their past can never go to the law.”

Kern was charged with aggravated sexual abuse, and could have served as many as 25 years in prison had he been convicted. Officers Morales and Cruz would have been eligible for up to four years in prison, if they had been found guilty on charges of hindering the prosecution.

 

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