Kevin Turner fled into the backyard of a Bellport home in April 2010 with marijuana and PCP in his bloodstream and two Suffolk County police officers in pursuit.
The officers caught Turner by a chain-link fence and, in what they later reported was an effort to subdue a combative subject, severely beat the unarmed 19-year-old. Their blows damaged Turner’s brain and ruptured organs that doctors would have to remove.
Photos taken after the midnight confrontation show the two officers — Kenneth Hamilton and Jason LaRosa — with no visible injuries. The only sign of a struggle is a rip in Hamilton’s pant leg.
The same can’t be said for the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Turner.
The beating put him into a coma. He woke up five months later in a nursing home, unable to form sentences and needing a ventilator to breathe. He had seizures and developed a blood infection that led to septic shock. He died in January 2011.
The Suffolk medical examiner’s office ruled Turner’s death a homicide. In medical death investigations, a homicide is simply the killing of one human being by another and is not necessarily criminal. The legal system decides whether a homicide is a crime.
Newsday reviewed medical records, previously confidential police documents and portions of the department’s own investigation of the Turner case. The review found inconsistent accounts of Turner’s beating by officers, including one who had accumulated multiple excessive-force complaints from citizens. There were also puzzling reports of a knife Turner allegedly brandished but dropped before the beating began. An officer said he lost the knife after forgetting it on the hood of his cruiser.
A police spokesman wrote Newsday that the department suspended its investigation in June 2010 when it and Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota asked the U.S. Justice Department to review the matter. When the federal investigation ends, the department’s internal affairs case “will be completed shortly thereafter,” the spokesman wrote.
However, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District said its investigation is not active.
Turner’s mother, Tawana Scott, is dismayed by what she says is a failure to vigorously investigate her son’s death at the hands of two officers who remain on the force. She filed a federal lawsuit last year against Hamilton, LaRosa and nine other officers involved in the incident. The suit alleges the officers showed gross negligence and “fabricated the possession and use of a knife” to justify the level of violence visited on Turner.
“Nothing adds up,” Scott said in a recent interview. “How are there not answers yet?”
Click here for the rest of the Newsday story.