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Judge says he is recuperating after attack by NYPD officer

Justice Thomas Raffaele stands outside a Jamaica courthouse nearly a week after he said an NYPD officer attacked him. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A Queens Supreme Court judge is recuperating after he said a NYPD officer attacked him and other bystanders watching an arrest last week in Jackson Heights, sparking multiple investigations into the incident.

Justice Thomas Raffaele, 69, said he was interviewed by officers from the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and believed the Queens district attorney was looking into the incident, which occurred just after midnight June 1. The Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates complaints against officers that are not considered crimes, confirmed it was also looking into the case.

Raffaele, 69, said Thursday that his neck and throat were still sore after the officer, who has not been identified, rose up from kneeling over a handcuffed man and lunged at the judge, using the area between the thumb and forefinger to jab him in the throat.

“The blow was so hard,” said Raffele, who in Matrimonial Court in Jamaica. “The way he hit me, he could have killed me.”

Raffaele had come across a crowd of people jeering at the officers who were arresting a shirtless man near the corner of 37th Road and 74th Street and he called 911 to get more help on the scene.

The officer, who the judge said assaulted him, was repeatedly kneeing the cuffed man in the back despite the jeers from the crowd and pleas from a registered nurse who happened to be walking by, Raffaele said.

Raffaele had been cleaning out his parents’ home in Bayside all day and evening. He and a friend were walking through the Jackson Heights neighborhood to drop off a set of keys he had borrowed.

After hitting the judge, Raffaele said the officer hit several other bystanders before more NYPD arrived.

Raffaele regained his voice and tried to file a complaint with a ranking officer at the scene, but a sergeant told him that he did not know which officer the judge was referring to and no one else had seen the assault, he said.

The judge saw the officer in question walking away from the scene and took his photo, he said. Subsequently, another sergeant took a complaint report, the judge said.

“Psychologi­cally, it was a very traumatic thing to happen,” Raffaele said. “This officer’s rage is so out of control, it is dangerous for him to be in that situation.”

Raffaele pointed out that he gained a strong appreciation for the NYPD during his time as head of Community Board 3, which covers Jackson Heights. He also participated in a civilian patrol in the neighborhood, but he thinks the officer who allegedly assaulted him is a danger to the public and a blemish on the reputation of the force.

The incident occurred in the 115th Precinct, which has the third-highest rate of stop-and-frisk in the city, according to American Civil Liberties Union data released earlier this year.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 11:30 am, June 8, 2012
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