DA drops Jax Hgts judge cop assault case

By Rebecca Henely

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement Wednesday his office would not be pursuing criminal charges against any officers in an incident in Jackson Heights last month where a judge contends he was struck by a policeman.

“The people would have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the police officer intentionally and unjustifiably struck Justice [Thomas] Raffaele and that the judge sustained physical injury,” Brown said. “Based on our investigation, we are unable to sustain that burden.”

Brown said the district attorney’s office had referred the matter to the Police Department and the Civilian Complaint Review Board to see if any violation of NYPD rules or procedures occurred in the incident. He said the office had no opinion over whether violations took place.

Raffaele, 69, alleges he was struck by an officer June 1 after midnight while 115th Police were trying to arrest and subdue 47-year-old Charles Menninger at the plaza at 74th Street and 37th Road in Jackson Heights. He said he was trying to help calm the crowd growing around Menninger when an officer hit him so hard in the windpipe that he became hoarse and his throat was still hurting weeks later.

Brown said the officers were trying to establish a safety perimeter in the course of the arrest when Raffaele was hit.

“We find that there is insufficient evidence of criminality to support a charge that the police officer acted with intent to injure or that physical injury (as defined by statute and case law) occurred,” Brown said.

The district attorney said Menninger had been trying to strike officers with a metal pipe at the time of his arrest and was also acting violently in an erratic and uncontrolled manner.

“We find that there is insufficient evidence that excessive force was utilized in restraining Mr. Menninger,” Brown said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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