State Sen. Kevin Parker is an unhinged thug who assaulted a New York Post photographer last year, prosecutors said on Wednesday as the lawmaker’s long-delayed trial for the crime began in Supreme Court.
Parker is charged with injuring Post staff photographer William Lopez during the now infamous confrontation outside the four-term legislator’s East Flatbush home.
In her opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen DiGiovanni prepared the jury for Parker’s defense that the prosecution is a media-driven political witchhunt.
“[Parker] attempted to wrongfully take a camera from [Lopez] and in doing so damaged his camera, damaged his car and caused an injury — nothing more and nothing less,” DiGiovanni said. “This is not about politics or the media, but the actions of this defendant.”
Sure enough, Parker’s lawyer rebutted DiGiovanni, saying that the case against Parker is “entirely about politics,” defense lawyer Lonnie Hart explained.
“The only reason Mr. Parker is in here right now is because of his position as a state senator from Brooklyn,” Hart said. “If he was a bus driver or worked at a post office, we would not be sitting here right now because this is the most ridiculous case that’s ever been tried in Supreme Court.”
Parker (D-Flatbush) chased and accosted Lopez after the photographer tried to take a snapshot of him outside his home on Avenue H near E. 37th Street, prosecutors allege. The photo was expected to accompany a story about how the property, which Parker co-owned with his elderly mother, was facing foreclosure.
Earlier that afternoon, Lopez and a reporter went to the home to get a comment from Parker about the impending foreclosure, but the legislator slammed the door in their faces. The reporter left but Lopez, a Park Slope resident, stayed to get a candid shot of Parker outside his home, DiGiovanni explained.
A short time later — after being asked by police to move away from Parker’s house — Lopez spotted the legislator. He had just started taking pictures when Parker charged the shutterbug, chasing him around the corner, according to police.
But Parker didn’t stop there.
Lopez testified on Wednesday that Parker doubled back to the photographer’s Subaru and was sitting on its hood when the photographer returned.
As Lopez got behind the wheel, Parker grabbed the driver’s side door, reached in and snatched the camera.
“I grabbed onto the strap and intended to pull it back,” Lopez told the jury. “[Parker] ended up in my lap. I don’t know how long we were struggling. If it was a minute, it felt like 10.”
Lopez suffered a fractured finger during the struggle. The camera, the flash and the inside of the Subaru were damaged.
Throughout the entire tug of war, Parker lambasted the media, Lopez recalled.
“He said, ‘Why is it every time the New York Post does a story about me, it’s something embarrassing,” Lopez said, quoting the politician. “I told him, ‘Right now you’re embarrassing yourself.’”
Both Parker and Lopez called 911. After a brief investigation at the scene, Parker was taken to the 67th Precinct stationhouse.
During cross examination, Hart tried to blow a hole through Lopez’s testimony, inferring that the photographer was trespassing on Parker’s property when he took his photos and that the New York Post tampered with evidence when they had the camera Parker allegedly damaged fixed.
Lopez also lost key evidence by selling the car Parker allegedly mangled during their tussle, Hart charged.
“The New York Post has their fingerprints all over this case,” Hart told the jury. “They should be reporting the news not creating it.”
In other testimony on Wednesday, an officer at the precinct suggested that Parker was treated with kid gloves while in custody. Police Officer Yannique Jean said that she followed a superior’s instructions and never handcuffed Parker. Instead of putting him in a jail cell, she asked the legislator to wait in a room set aside for juvenile offenders.
Jean apologized for trying to get basic information from embattled pol — but in a key moment in her testimony, she said that Parker made a mini-confession about his alleged attack on Lopez.
“I asked for his phone number and said, ‘I’m sorry, but I’m just doing my job,’” Jean testified. “And he said ‘I’m the one who should be sorry for acting the way I acted.”
The 2009 incident marks another hostile chapter in the truculent tome on Parker’s eight years as a state legislator.
In 2005, Parker was arrested for punching out a traffic enforcement officer, although those charges were dropped when he agreed to take anger management classes.
Since taking the classes, he’s been accused of roughing up an aide, and attacking political candidate Wellington Sharpe, whom Parker defeated with 73 percent of the vote in the September primary.
Parker’s also wigged out at a recent Senate hearing, calling Republicans “white supremacists.”
This trial was expected to take place in the summer, but was postponed for four months after it was learned that Wynton Sharpe, the son of Parker’s primary challenger, worked for Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes.
Hynes recused himself, handing Parker’s prosecution off to Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan.
If convicted of the felony assault charge, Parker faces seven years in prison and would be removed from the Senate.
Parker is expected to testify when the trial resumes today.
©2010 Community News Group
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