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New York Judge Says Cop Struck Him After Apparently Mistaking Him for a Heckler

Posted Jun 7, 2012 7:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A New York judge says criminal charges may be warranted against a police officer who hit him after apparently mistaking him for a heckler.

Judge Thomas Raffaele of Queens told the New York Times and the New York Law Journal that the incident occurred just after midnight on June 1. The 69-year-old judge had been cleaning out his parents’ house after their move to Houston, and he was walking down the street with a friend who had helped him move two tables. A crowd had gathered around New York City police officers making an arrest, and Raffaele called 911, thinking the officers needed backup.

One officer was ramming his knee into the back of a screaming handcuffed man, while the crowd jeered, Raffaele said. One woman, a nurse, called out to the officer to stop. Raffaele described what happened next in an interview with the New York Law Journal.

"As people kept criticizing, the officer got angrier and angrier and started to curse at people in the crowd and jumped up and ran toward the crowd and started hitting people," Raffaele said. "I was the first person he hit. It was a full-force, open-hand blow to the front of my throat. If I hadn't moved my head back when I was being hit, I think I would have been killed on the spot. That's how hard I was hit, and I am saying that from the perspective of someone who was trained in the Army on hand-to-hand combat."

Officers have identified the officer, but they did not release his name, the New York Times reports in a different story. The judge and the handcuffed man were treated and released.

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