NY officers' "lesson" leads to indictment

March 4, 2008 8:42:33 AM PST
Two police officers handcuffed a 14-year-old boy, kicked and hit him and left him on a Staten Island road in his boxer shorts as payback for a Halloween prank, a 33-count indictment charged. Officers Thomas Elliassen, 28, and Richard Danese, 29, pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment Tuesday, a day after the indictment was announced. They were released without bail.

The officers were arrested last Halloween on charges of unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of Rayshawn Moreno.

Prosecutors say the officers were trying to teach the boy a lesson after he supposedly threw eggs at a car near their precinct. But Moreno's attorney said the boy was throwing eggs at a friend.

The officers handcuffed Moreno and drove him to an area near the West Shore rail line, then kicked and hit him while he lay face down on a remote road, stripped to his boxer shorts, the indictment said.

The officers then left the boy to find his way back from the swampy area bordered by railroad tracks and a rock-strewn path, the indictment said.

The officers were charged with unlawful imprisonment - punishable by up to four years in prison - endangering the welfare of a child, harassment, attempted assault and several felony and misdemeanor counts of falsifying records.

The officer's lawyers said after Tuesday's arraignment that the officers were being politically prosecuted.

"The district attorney ram-rodded this case through the grand jury so it can come out and he can say that he indicted two police officers," Danese attorney John Tynan said.

Elliassen attorney John Patten called the indictment "highly political."

"You can't play politics with people's lives," he said.


Information from: Staten Island Advance, http://www.silive.com