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A Drunk Off-Duty Long Island Cop Seriously Injured a Two-Year-Old. It Took Newsday Reporting to Expose his Department’s Latest Cover-Up

by Jo Ellen Nott

The cover-up of a drunk off-duty Suffolk County PD officer rear-ending a dad and his two small sons is the latest in a series of six case histories that Newsday has brought to the public eye since December 2021. The evening newspaper is uncovering how Long Island police departments shield police misconduct that results in grave civilian injuries or deaths.  In its reporting, Newsday documents how officers have received little or no disciplinary measures in both the Nassau and Suffolk County police departments.

The sixth cover-up began in August 2020 when a 4,000-pound Ram truck going more than 50 miles per hour and driven by off-duty officer David Mascarella slammed into the back of a 2,000-pound Mitsubishi driven by a dad and his two preschool sons. The impact fractured the skull of the two-year-old son, leaving him with life-long injuries. Riordan must wear a leg brace to walk and cannot run or jump. Mascarella was never charged, thanks to the quick thinking and evasive maneuvers of his fellow officers.

After filing a Freedom of Information request with the Suffolk County Police Department, the injured Cavooris family received video recordings and police documents concerning the crash. The family shared this evidence with Newsday, which then reported the cover-up: 

• Officers did not ask Mascarella to submit to a breath test.

• A sergeant notified the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association that a detective wanted Mascarella tested. The PBA sent a delegate who removed Mascarella from the scene. 

• When ordered by the department to catch up with Mascarella, a fellow officer lied to a supervisor saying he had administered the blood alcohol test and Mascarella had passed it.  The officer later retracted his story.

• When an inspector ordered Mascarella to take the test three hours after the crash, Mascarella refused. The refusal should have prompted the issuance of a warrant to have Mascarella’s blood drawn. Instead, the inspector only issued a traffic ticket.

• Police did not notify the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office on the night of the crash. The omission prevented the DA from considering whether to seek a warrant to test Mascarella’s blood.

• Suffolk County DA Ray Tierney told Newsday that “because certain evidence was not collected by SCPD on the date of the incident, we were unable to make a determination as to whether or not a crime was committed.”

Mascarella has been suspended without pay since February and a police spokesperson reported that the police commissioner is moving to fire him. Newsday is suing both the Nassau County Police Department and the Suffolk County Police Department for public access to internal disciplinary records that they unfailingly withhold. 

Sources:  Newsday, Reason   

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