A Syosset man says the Long Beach police commissioner punched him during a traffic stop, an allegation the police commissioner vehemently denies.
Commissioner Michael Tangney and retired Internal Revenue Service worker Kevin M. Holian agree that Tangney pulled him over on Edwards Boulevard Tuesday morning and accused him of driving through a stop sign. But Tangney said he made no physical contact with the driver, while Holian said he didn’t commit the offense and did nothing to deserve being punched.
Holian’s attorney said her client was interviewed by officials from the Nassau County district attorney’s office Wednesday and gave a written statement.
A DA’s office spokesman declined to comment.
Tangney said Thursday that he would cooperate with investigators and said he expects to be cleared of wrongdoing.
“I understand the DA has a job to do investigating this incident,” Tangney said.
Tangney, a 40-year Long Beach police veteran, was appointed Tuesday night to serve as acting city manager next year until a permanent replacement is selected by the City Council. He said he plans to continue in both roles during the probe.
“I will be vindicated and I hope he is prosecuted for filing a false statement,” added Tangney, who said he hasn’t been contacted by investigators.
Holian, 64, said he was driving after a visit with his mother at a Long Beach nursing home when the driver of a silver Lexus SUV behind him began beeping his horn and yelling out his window.
“The guy was yelling and screaming. I thought it was just road rage,” said Holian, who spoke to Newsday by cellphone Thursday with his attorney, Charo Ezdrin of Syosset.
According to Tangney, Holian exited his SUV, was holding up his phone and told him he was recording him when Tangney approached, holding his ID. Tangney said he told Holian to go back into his vehicle and to produce his license.
According to Holian, as he reached for his glove box to get his paperwork, the man struck him on the left side of his face, causing his nose to bleed.
“My glasses fall off. . . . He sucker-punched me,” Holian said.
Tangney said he never reached into the vehicle and only touched Holian’s license and registration.
Tangney said he had called for a uniformed Long Beach police officer to come and write a traffic ticket, and that Tangney signed the citation as a witness. Tangney said at one point he noticed Holian was bleeding and offered to call an ambulance, but that Holian accused him of punching him. Tangney then drove away, he said.
Holian said he told the uniformed officer about the punch, but that the officer told him: “No one else is here. I pulled you over. . . . You’re not bleeding. I don’t see any blood.”
After the incident, Holian drove to the Nassau County Police Department precinct in Syosset to file a report, he said. Holian said police called an ambulance, which took him to Syosset Hospital, where he was treated for shortness of breath, pain and the nosebleed.
Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, a Nassau police spokesman, said, “We cannot provide any further details due to this being an ongoing investigation.”
It wasn’t until Holian got home and did research online, said his attorney, that he identified the man who stopped him as Tangney.
Tangney said he would be cleared by two eyewitnesses who were stopped behind the vehicles.
The two, Tim and Christina Kramer, who previously knew Tangney from a charity drive, said they were driving behind Tangney’s SUV when he turned on his lights and siren and stopped the other vehicle, blocking traffic.
The Kramers saw Tangney at the driver’s window, showing his badge and ID, but said they did not see him punch the other driver. They said Tangney waved them around the scene.
“There was no way in that area of Long Beach, by the train station, was he going to start beating on him,” Christina Kramer said. “I didn’t see any rage. All indications were he was going to let this guy go.”
Ken Apple, president of the Long Beach Police Benevolent Association, said the PBA “has been made aware that there’s an ongoing investigation.”
“We are unaware of the particulars of the complaint or the allegations and certainly unaware of the facts. I can assure you that our members will cooperate fully with the investigation.”
Asked whether any officers have spoken to the DA’s office about the allegations, Apple said, “They have not yet.”