Revolution #194, March 7, 2010
NYPD Cops Acquitted in Beating and Rape of Michael Mineo
In yet another maddening, outrageous travesty of justice, Richard Kern, the NYPD cop indicted for assaulting Michael Mineo, involving use of his baton to sodomize Mineo, was acquitted on February 22 by a Brooklyn jury on all charges. Two other cops charged with attempting to cover up the assault were also acquitted. This, despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, and mirroring innumerable cases where cops have committed terrible crimes against the people—mainly people of color—but have walked free.
On October 15, 2008, Mineo was heading to work, smoking a marijuana-laced cigar butt. After cops approached him, he ran down into a subway station, where cops tackled him, beat and handcuffed him. Then one of them, Richard Kern, shoved his baton into Mineo's rectum. (For more on the case, see Revolution #193, "The NYPD Beating and Rape of Michael Mineo," online at revcom.us.)
What happened on that day was brought more fully to light by a number of people during trial testimony, including:
- Dr. Syed Ahmed of Brookdale University Hospital, where Mineo spent four days after the assault, testified that Mineo had anal skin lacerations, a small amount of anal bleeding, and symptoms of internal inflammation that turned into a full-fledged infection. Dr. Ahmed also said that insertion of a "foreign object" could have caused the anal tears and led to the inflammation.
- A DNA specialist with the medical examiner's office, Sarah Philipps, testified that Kern's baton contained a trace of blood in a mix of genetic material that possibly included Mineo's blood. Philipps also testified that Mineo's blood was found on the boxer shorts he said he was wearing on that day.
- Transit Bureau officer Kevin Maloney, on duty at the subway station that day, testified he saw Kern jab his baton between Mineo's buttocks. "It was pressed on Michael Mineo's left buttock. I saw it move left to right.... Yes, there was pressure being applied. It went from left to right, into Michael Mineo's butt crack."
To try to discredit this testimony, the cops' attorneys called medical people to testify that the anal tears could have been caused by a bowel movement or other factors unrelated to what happened on October 15, 2008. These attorneys also suggested that Mineo may have inflicted the anal tears on himself! They also brought in a forensics expert, formerly an NYPD employee, to testify that the hole in Mineo's pants, because of its irregular shape, could not have been made by Kern's round baton.
But the main line of "defense" by the cops' attorneys was to attack Michael Mineo's credibility by focusing on his arrests and affiliation with the Crips gang, while also claiming that Mineo had fabricated everything to bring a multi-million-dollar civil suit against the city. As became clear in the jurors' statements to the media after the verdict, this line of attack strongly influenced their decision. One juror, for example, said that "Mineo was thinking money."
Adding to the outrage, pertinent evidence about Kern's history of brutality was covered up in the trial. Twice before the Michael Mineo incident, people had brought complaints against Kern for brutalizing them. The New York Civilian Complaint Review Board cleared Kern, just as it has cleared cops in almost all of the complaints that have come before it. However, one of the cases against Kern led to two civil lawsuits that the city quietly settled for $50,000. But the judge in the trial of the cops who brutalized Mineo ruled this important, revealing information about Kern was irrelevant and inadmissible, meaning the jurors never heard it. Whatever the actual legal basis of the judge's ruling, this was a blatantly unjust move to let the criminal cop off the hook and suppress the truth of what happened.
Shortly after the verdict came down, Michael Mineo put his finger on an even larger truth behind the farce that occurred in that Brooklyn courtroom, and what has occurred time and time again. Mineo said: "If you want to commit a murder and get away with it, join the NYPD." He also said: "Look at the Sean Bell case. They shot that boy ... cops got acquitted, didn't they?"
Yes, they did. And these crimes against the people must stop!
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