Newsday Interviews Randy Zelin regarding dismissal of Akbar Roger's criminal charges

Randy Zelin

October 1, 2021

Nassau County prosecutors dismissed the remaining charges Tuesday against Akbar Rogers, the Freeport man whose beating by police during a 2019 arrest was captured on video.

The district attorney’s office dropped the lone outstanding harassment violation charge stemming from an initial arrest warrant from Oct. 13 where Rogers was accused of repeatedly pushing down a pregnant woman. Rogers denied that he pushed the woman.

The harassment charge is a violation, which is a lesser offense than a felony or misdemeanor. Rogers was set to go to trial this week, but prosecutors said they were not prepared to move forward with the case, Rogers’ Garden City attorney Randy Zelin said Wednesday.

"This non-criminal violation charge was dismissed due to witness unavailability that precluded a speedy trial," district attorney officials said in a statement Thursday.

Rogers, 45, and his attorneys have filed a $25 million lawsuit against the Village of Freeport, Nassau County and the eight officers involved in the arrest. Two of the police officers involved in Rogers' arrest are sons of Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy.

"I am thrilled that justice has been done and all of Mr. Rogers' criminal cases are dismissed," Zelin said. "We look forward to this being done civilly and all of the wrongs be righted. We made sure our client’s record was clean, he did not deserve to have a record regarding any of these charges and this ensures justice was done."

Prosecutors dismissed two other charges of felony assault and resisting arrest last year after former District Attorney Madeline Singas reviewed video of the Dec. 3 arrest.

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Police were responding to Rogers’ home to serve an arrest warrant on the harassment violation when eight Freeport police officers were seen punching, kicking and using a Taser on Rogers. He was pulled over a chain-link fence by police when he was lying on the ground and police said he was resisting arrest.

Singas said the mayor requested an independent investigation and the district attorney’s public corruption unit investigated the arrest after the video of the arrest captured by a neighbor went public.

The district attorney’s office also declined to file any criminal charges against the eight officers involved in the arrest. The district attorney hired a use-of-force expert who said the degree of force used to subdue Rogers was "justified by law and policy."

While condemning the actions and language of the officers made during the arrest, the district attorney said the conduct was "consistent with the officers' training and departmental policies, making criminal charges against the officers unsustainable."

The civil case against Freeport, Nassau County and the officers is now moving forward after the charges have been dismissed, Rogers’ attorney in the civil case, Greg Martello of Garden City, said. He said they are now looking to review evidence previously withheld as part of the criminal case.

The officers named in the suit are Michael Kennedy, Vincent Kennedy, Matthew Koutsogiannis, Michael Geniale, Michael Salisbury, Richard Paulik, Kyle Pistani and Thomas Williams.

Officials have not said whether the officers remain on the force or if they have returned to duty.