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Crime

Michael Mineo sodomy trial verdict: Jury finds all cops not guilty on all counts

Updated: Monday, February 22, 2010, 11:32 AM
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"I feel good it's finally behind me," Officer Richard Kern said of the trial's conclusion.

Ward/News

"I feel good it's finally behind me," Officer Richard Kern said of the trial's conclusion.

Mineo claimed he was brutalized after cops nabbed him for smoking pot on the Prospect Park subway platform.

Ward/News

Mineo claimed he was brutalized after cops nabbed him for smoking pot on the Prospect Park subway platform.

Jurors who cleared a city cop Monday of using a baton to sodomize a Brooklyn tattoo artist believe something happened to the man - but couldn't figure out what.

Juror Justin Douglas said testimony from defense experts about a rip in victim Michael Mineo's underwear - and the extent of his injuries - undercut the prosecution's case.

And Mineo's $440 million suit against the city also fueled skepticism.

"Mineo was thinking money," said another juror, who asked not to be identified. "From the get-go, we thought they did something wrong, but it wasn't sodomy."

Brooklyn Supreme Court testimony that a round baton could not have caused a square hole in Mineo's boxers "left a lot ofroom for reasonable doubt," Douglas said.

Jurors also believed a doctor testifying for the defense who said thepot-smoking gang member should have had "more injuries" from the kind of assault he described, Douglas said.

"The hole in the boxers, I don't think anyone is ever going to be able to explain that," Douglas said.

Officer Richard Kern looked up at the ceiling and closed his eyes in relief after he was found not guilty on all counts of assaulting Mineo.

"I knew coming in I was innocent," Kern later said. "I feel good it's finally behind me. I'll finally get a good night's sleep."

Kern said he can't wait to "getback on the street, do what I love ... protect the people of Brooklyn."

Two other officers, Alex Cruz and Andrew Morales, were found not guilty of charges they covered up the assault. Cruz looked away and began weeping.

"It was very hard sitting in there and listening to all the lies," Morales said. "I'm glad it's over."

All remain on modified duty until the NYPD completes its review of the case.

Mineo swore after the verdict was read and said, "I don't believe it."

"Who's going to police the police?" he asked.

The cops were acquitted despite testimony from fellow Officer Kevin Maloney - who told the jury he saw Kern violate Mineo.

An apprentice body piercer whose rap sheet includes arrests for marijuana use and gang assault, Mineo claimed he was brutalized after cops cuffed him for smoking pot on a Prospect Park subway station platform in October 2008.

Kern, who was charged with aggravated sexual assault and faced 25 years in prison, testified that he pulled out his baton but never used it on the "squirming" Mineo.

"I was holding his legs down on the ground so he couldn't kick nobody," Kern said.

Defense attorneys claimed that Mineo either had injuries before the confrontation or caused them himself.

sshifrel@nydailynews.com

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