Howard Beach man sentenced for assault of off-duty cop


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

A Howard Beach man who brutally beat a cop during a gang assault has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Joseph Meyer, 26, was convicted of first-degree gang assault and other charges for an August 2009 attack on an off-duty police officer during a traffic dispute, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

According to trial testimony, Meyer — a construction worker — and several unapprehended others assaulted Officer Damien Bartels while he was off-duty, punching and kicking him multiples times in the head following an early morning traffic dispute in Long Island City.

Bartels and two other passengers — his girlfriend Jennifer Menjivar and cousin Richard Sacco — were on their way home, trial testimony showed, when they ran into a confrontation with a group of people standing outside of their vehicles and blocking the road at a traffic light.

Sacco — Bartels’ cousin — then rolled down the rear window and hollered for them to move, the DA said. Words were exchanged between Sacco and the group before Bartels — hoping to defuse the situation — pulled around the vehicles and drove away.

According to the DA, Bartels managed to drive for approximately one block when he was suddenly boxed in by several cars — two of which he recognized as being at the traffic light.

Bartels then locked his passengers inside the vehicle for safety, exited the car and told the group that he did not want any trouble, the DA said.

However, according to trial testimony, he was struck in the head and collapsed to the ground, where he was beaten by several individuals, including Meyer.

Bartels was treated for a shattered nose, two broken eye sockets, a broken jaw and shifted teeth. He underwent surgery for 11 hours, the DA said, in which titanium rods were placed in his eye sockets and titanium plates were surgically implanted in his face. A second surgery was also needed soon after to repair his septum after he had difficulty breathing.

Bartels has since returned to the NYPD.

A fingerprint lifted from Bartels’ vehicle proved to be a match for Meyer’s, the DA said. In a written statement, Meyer also admitted to being in an altercation on the date of the incident and at the location of the assault.

Meanwhile, Meyer’s friends and family continue to raise hope and funds for appeals.

While many loved ones directed comment to Meyer’s attorney — who could not be reached as of press time — a web site called freejosephmeyer.com and a Facebook community page titled “Free Joseph Meyer” has been fashioned to garner support and charitable donations for Meyer, a newlywed and father of a baby girl.

“Joey is simply a nice guy that has love pouring out of his heart for everyone he meets,” the site states. “He is the easiest-going guy that you could ever meet and does not have a bad or evil bone in his body.”