A woman from Huntington spoke at Thursday night's village board of trustees meeting, claiming that a Garden City Police officer beat her son to the point where he had to be taken to the hospital, while other officers stood by and let it happen.
According to Cecelia Stepanian, her son Andrew and his friend Danny were driving down Tenth Street in Garden City when they were pulled over and Danny was arrested. She said that because Danny had recently been hospitalized and had been hospitalized several times over the last year, Andrew questioned why his friend was being arrested. According to Andrew's mother, her son was told to mind his own business, was forcibly pushed to the ground, handcuffed and arrested. He was taken to the police station, where he was handcuffed, with his hands behind him, to the bench, according to his mother. She went on to say that once at the police station her son was repeatedly beaten, and though not gay, barraged by anti-gay slurs and remarks. According to the mother, the officer continued to punch Andrew and beat him "until his blood covered the floor below him." The mother said that though her son screamed as loud as he could, everyone in the police station ignored his cries for help.
Cecelia said that when witnesses to the arrest contacted her, she immediately contacted a Mineola lawyer, Lloyd Nadel, but the Garden City Police would not give him any information. According to Cecelia, her son was not given a phone call and his rights were not read to him. He has been charged with obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, and assault on a police officer.
"Andrew is a wonderful, compassionate person, who is in his third year of college and had hopes of becoming a teacher," said Cecelia. "He freely gives of his time on weekends to feed the homeless, creates food drives for the needy, works for environmental causes and has worked up in Albany to change problems that are here on Long Island ... He is known for his stand on non-violence and often speaks out against drugs and alcohol. He has even conducted workshops on conflict resolution. He would never act in any way that could ever, ever be interpreted as threatening to a police officer, let alone assault him."
According to Cecelia, Andrew was taken to the hospital by the police, and at that time they told him that the police officer was hurt because Andrew kicked him. Cecelia said that it would have been impossible for her son to kick the officer because he was handcuffed to the bench, but that the officer strained his arm hitting Andrew.
Cecelia requested that the mayor and village board investigate these charges and begin an investigation on the Garden City Police Department.
Following the mother's pleas, Mayor Harold Hecken stated that he did not know anything about this situation but that he would check it out. "I am sorry for any hurt that you and your son have been involved in and will take a look at it," said the mayor.
Following the meeting, Police Commissioner Ernest Cipullo had no comment. In an interview the following day Mayor Hecken stated that at this point the village does not have any comment but said, "They are very serious charges. Bob Schoelle [village administrator] has already asked Commissioner Cipullo for a complete response relative to the events that took place and when we have that we will investigate further."
According to Nadel, the lawyer for the Stepanians, Andrew, who is 22, and his friend Danny were pulled over after handing out leaflets in front of a fur store. He said that he believes Danny was arrested because of open warrants from outside Nassau County. Currently, according to Nadel, they have not filed any charges. According to Nadel, if criminal charges for assault are filed those would most likely be filed with the district attorney's office or if civil charges are filed, a notice of claim would be filed with the village.