Jurors are deliberating at the trial of a New York City police officer accused of sexually abusing a handcuffed suspect.
Officer Richard Kern has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated sexual abuse and assault for allegedly sodomizing the victim -- a drug suspect -- with a police baton. Officers Andrew Morales and Alex Cruz have pleaded not guilty to hindering prosecution and official misconduct. They're accused ofcovering up the alleged incident.
In closing arguments yesterday, prosecutor Charles Guria said the officers were guilty of abusing Michael Mineo, who was stopped after being seen smoking pot near a Brooklyn subway station. "On October 15, 2008 these defendants had an obligation to protect and serve Michael Mineo as well and they failed and committed a crime," said Guria.
Brandishing the baton in front of the jury during his closing arguments, Guria banged it against a table three times in about two seconds -- demonstrating how quickly Kern could have violated the handcuffed Mineo, stopped by cops that October afternoon for smoking pot.
"Richard Kern is in a position where he can insert this baton," said Guria.
Bringing up his star witness, a transit cop who said he saw the alleged penetration, Guria praised him as a cop "with no ax to grind" who risked his career by breaking the blue wall of silence.
"Why would he do that if he wasn't sure about what he saw?" Guria asked. Kern and the other cop defendants, Andrew Morales and Alex Cruz, leaned forward in their chairs, hanging on Guria's every word.
He stressed that scientific analysis found Mineo's blood on his torn underwear and could not rule out his DNA on the baton. The defense has argued strenuously that the DNA evidence is non-conclusive and several types were found on the baton.
As for Mineo, Guria called him a victim despite his criminal past and current $440 million civil suit.
A day earlier, defense attorney Richard Murray belittled the case as absurd mainly for lacking evidence of blunt trauma injury.
"This whole prosecution is stupid," Murray said.
After the judge's instruction on the law, the fate of the three officers rests with the jury of seven women and five men.