A New York City police officer, a former NYPD officer and another man were acquitted on Monday, May 17, of assaulting a Co. Limerick man outside a slew of bars in Yonkers in September 2007.
A jury in Yonkers City Court acquitted officer, Michael McGhee, 31, former police officer, Thomas Wimmer, 26 and a third man, Patrick Tully, 27, of the charges on Monday.
The three men were charged with one count of third-degree assault, a charge that is considered a misdemeanor, after a fight broke out with Limerick native Peter Cummins.
Cummins, 27, from Kilmallock, Co. Limerick suffered a cracked skull, nasal fractures and temporary loss of sight to his left eye, when the fight broke out on McLean Avenue in Yonkers on September 14, 2007 just after 3 a.m.
Words were apparently exchanged between the two off duty New York City police officers and their friend, insulting Cummins’ girlfriend, which resulted in a brawl.
The incident apparently began when Cummins arrived to meet his girlfriend and her friend. Cummins believed that Tully made a lewd comment about his girlfriend and confronted him.
Prosecutors argued that the three men attacked Cummins, but defense lawyers say that Cummins pushed Tully first and that McGhee and Whimmer, who resigned from the police force a few weeks after the incident, got involved.
"Reasonable doubt is written all over this case," Richard H. B. Murrary, Wimmer's attorney, told jurors last week.
According to the district attorney’s office in Westchester County, the fight erupted on the sidewalk of McLean Avenue just as two New York City police officers on patrol arrived at the scene, after crossing over into the Yonkers border. (McLean Avenue is on the border of the Bronx and Yonkers).
Patrol officers, Stella Ibanez, 40 and Jeffrey Alicea, 33, immediately intervened, handcuffing McGhee. According to prosecutors, as soon as McGhee identified himself as a police officer he was released.
It later emerged that Ibanez and Alicea agreed to devise a story that, if asked, they would say the person involved in the attack was not a police officer.
Ibanez and Alicea’s case avoided a trial after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct earlier this year. They were fined $75 and given a conditional discharge.
Tully’s lawyer, Nicholas C. Masell said, "They (Cummins and his girlfriend) have 10 million reasons to testify the way they did,” alluding to a lawsuit that Cummins has filed.
He claimed Cummins started the fight by pushing Tully first.
The three defendants did not testify during the trial.
On Monday, Laureen Rego, a juror, said the panel felt “reasonable doubt was certainly there.”
Since the attack, Cummins had to give up playing rugby for Lansdowne Bhoys and he can only take on work that doesn’t require heavy lifting.