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Feb 2, 2011 11:36 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Police Officer Takes Stand In Kabot DWI Trial

Feb 2, 2011 11:36 AM

Former Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot’s DWI trial kicked off Monday, and testimony given by Westhampton Beach Village Police Officer Steven McManus—one of two police officers who arrested her on Labor Day 2009—dominated the first two days of hearings in Riverhead Town Justice Court.

On Tuesday, during four and a half hours of testimony, Officer McManus was cross-examined by William Keahon, Ms. Kabot’s defense attorney, who asked a series of questions suggesting that his client’s arrest was organized by police because of her support of a plan that would have forced a half dozen Southampton Town Police officers into accepting early retirement. The plan was never approved.

On Tuesday, Mr. Keahon asked Officer McManus if he had shown Ms. Kabot’s driver’s license to Westhampton Beach Sergeant Nicholas Fusco, whose shift was set to end at midnight, after the sergeant observed that he and fellow Officer Ryan Lucas had pulled over a car on Main Street. Ms. Kabot was pulled over at 11:44 p.m. on Sunday, September 6, 2009, but not arrested until 12:05 a.m. on Monday, September 7.

Officer McManus confirmed that he had shown Ms. Kabot’s license to Sgt. Fusco, prompting the defense attorney to next ask Officer McManus if he also told Sgt. Fusco: “Look who we got,” or “We got her, we got her.”

“I don’t recall if I even said anything, sir,” Officer McManus said, “but why would I run up to him and say, ‘We got her, we got her’?”

Mr. Keahon also pointed to a number of cell phone and text message conversations between Officer McManus and his fellow officers and superiors, highlighting a call that the officer made on September 7 to Patrick Aube, president of the Southampton Town Patrolmen’s Benevolence Association.

“Did you talk about the arrest of Linda Kabot?” Mr. Keahon asked Officer McManus.

“I’m sure we did,” he responded.

On Monday and Tuesday, jurors watched a 30-minute video of Ms. Kabot’s arrest that was shot by a dashboard camera installed in the police car. In the video, she tells the officers that she drank one or two glasses of wine earlier that night during a birthday party for her sister at a home in East Moriches. Ms. Kabot, who lives in Quogue, was arrested and charged with DWI, a misdemeanor.

The video was released to various media outlets that had requested it, including The Press, at the order of Riverhead Town Justice Allen Smith.

On Wednesday, jurors were expected to begin hearing testimony from Officer Lucas, according to Mr. Keahon. In addition to Sgt. Fusco, Westhampton Beach Detective Edwin Hamor and Westhampton Beach Lieutenant Trevor Gonce will appear in court in the coming days, he said.

Justice Smith ruled last week that two witnesses—rumored to be employees of Magic’s Pub in Westhampton Beach—will not be allowed to take the stand. Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office, previously stated that they were expected to testify that they had observed Ms. Kabot drinking alcohol at the Main Street bar about six hours before she was pulled over by Westhampton Beach Village Police, something Ms. Kabot has denied in the past.

According to court documents, the judge ruled that consumption of alcohol four hours prior to Ms. Kabot’s arrest would not provide evidence that she was intoxicated at the time of the stop, and could be prejudicial toward her, so it was not admissible.

Ms. Kabot declined to comment on the proceedings.

Before Officer McManus took the stand on Monday, and before the first viewing of the arrest video had taken place, Mr. Keahon and Assistant District Attorney Anthony Baron wrapped up their opening statements.

“This is a simple case—drinking alcohol and then choosing to get into a motor vehicle and operate it on our public highways,” said Mr. Baron during his opening salvo. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

The arrest video itself shows Ms. Kabot driving south on Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach and, at one point, her driver’s side tires cross over the double yellow line. Then, the tape shows her failing to fully stop at a stop sign before making a left turn onto Main Street. She then proceeds to drive around pedestrians who are crossing the street before drifting from her lane a second time.

“I was concerned for the safety of those people,” Officer McManus said during Mr. Keahon’s cross-examination on Tuesday, explaining why he pulled Ms. Kabot over.

Though he never said it outright, Mr. Keahon’s line of questioning suggested that the officer was a participant in an alleged political conspiracy that targeted Ms. Kabot, who was up for reelection that November. Ms. Kabot was ultimately defeated by current Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in the fall election held months later.

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Google "Kabot DWI trial begins" for a more nuanced view of the evidence.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 31, 11 8:01 PM
Cross-examination regarding the video could be interesting IMO.

The missing few minutes could raise Reasonable Doubt.

TBD.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 31, 11 8:35 PM
What Reasonable Doubt could the "missing few minutes" raise now that they didn't last Summer in the pre-trial hearings before the same Judge?

Westhampton Beach seems to have a screwed-up PD, but all the Keahon razzle-dazzle isn't likely to obscure the facts of the case: Linda Kabot was pulled over on suspicion of DWI, and refused a sobriety test. .

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 1, 11 12:22 AM
to Frank Wheeler:

Reasonable Doubt?

The motive of the cops to arrest Linda Kabot for DWI; the effect that that motive had on an honest finding.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Feb 1, 11 2:39 AM
Frank, I believe you know that the procedural issues at a pre-trial hearing are different than at trial. The judge at the pre-trial simply made the determination that the jury should see the video tape, and hear testimony about the missing 3-4 minutes. THEN, the jury can consider the credibility of the officers based on what they say about why they turned off the tape. Excluding the tape at the pre-trial might indeed have been reversible error!

Two different issues, and I am feeling that ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 1, 11 6:59 AM
This trial could be "make or break" moments for the carreers of Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Baron - interesting the DA's office puts so much confidence in Mr. Shapiro's "legal opinions" . . .how long has he been with the DA's office!? Since so many DWI cases are resolved before they go to trial, my question to the DA's office would be -- are you "doing justice" or advancing an agenda, personal or otherwise? Just curious.
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jan 31, 11 9:39 PM
I have one question: I read the officers were overheard saying "We got her" on the phone at the scene. This would indicate a set-up of some kind. Has this been confirmed and by whom?
By baywoman (165), southampton on Feb 1, 11 8:15 PM
If testimony of this nature takes place, more Reasonable Doubt!

Start adding it up.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 1, 11 8:26 PM
BW: "I read the officers were overheard saying 'We got her'"

Did you read the current article, or did you just rush here to tell everyone what you "read" somewhere?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 2, 11 12:24 AM
Article has been updated.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 1, 11 8:58 PM
How can the consumption of alcohol four to six hours before the incident not be relevant? Alcohol has a cumulative effect. If you begin drinking at 4 pm and don't stop until 8 pm, is that first drink at 4pm not relevant to whether you are drunk or not? Plus, it refutes her calim that she only had a couple of drinks at her sister's party.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Feb 1, 11 10:57 PM
I don't think "Reasonable Doubt" counts in this type of case. Preponderance of Evidence applies but the missing video and sloppiness of the WHB police force will weigh heavy on the jury for certain.
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Feb 2, 11 9:18 AM
This is a criminal (not civil) case, and IMO "Reasonable Doubt" does apply. Video has been posted. Link above.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Feb 2, 11 10:19 AM
1 member liked this comment
"reasonble doubt" is not a legal standard. "probable cuse" is- as in the police needed probable cause to stop the vehicle- ie traffic infraction (swerving across yellow line etc), and probable cause to make an arrest.

"preponderance of evidence" is not a legal standard. the prosecutor must show that the accused is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt"
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Feb 2, 11 6:10 PM
I like how the conspiracy theory that the Police set her up is predicated on so many unknown variables.

They had to find Linda Kabot (and they just "happend" to do so while she drove through the Village which would not have been her normal route home), needed a reason to pull her over (the video makes it clear she crossed the double yellow in addition to rolling through a stop sign) then needed to get her to admit she had been drinking (which she states she has been) then they need to ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Feb 2, 11 11:28 AM
Watch the video. Weaving and crossing the double yellow are indicators that police are trained to watch for. When Kabot hands over her license she identifies herself as if police couldn't read her license, almost as good as a "do you know how I am?". Her inability to follow instructions (follow with your eyes only, left foot / right foot, etc.) are good indicators of intoxication. So is wobbling while balancing (try it). As to the 3 minutes of missing video, wouldn't you want to make sure you had ...more
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Feb 2, 11 1:02 PM
I've seen hundreds of these arrests personally in the past. My opinion, from viewing the cam is, the video is too weak to get a DWI conviction. Kabot admits consuming some wine earlier at a party. There was reasonable cause in pulling her over, without question, but not part of a conspiacy theory. She'll walk. In this case the video hindered more than helps towards a DWI conviction. On top of that, no intoxilzer results. Weak case.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Feb 2, 11 4:25 PM
1 member liked this comment
However weak you deem the case -- with which assessment I do not concur -- it is bolstered considerably by that which you somehow feel is a flaw: "no intoxilzer results."

She declined on multiple occasions to submit to such a test, and the law is very clear on that point.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Feb 2, 11 5:37 PM
Frank,
Your correct on the refusal of an intoxilzer test. The law is very clear on the consequences of a refusal. But, if you know you are not going to pass it, why give the government something that will be used against you? Kabot also said things on the tape that don't help her case either, prior to being given her rights.

Make no mistake about it. Drunks have no business on the roads. This is strictly, whether the evidence submitted will be strong enough to convict her of DWI. ...more
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Feb 2, 11 6:02 PM
spontaneous utterance, look it up brucie!! No Miranda Required until handcuffs go on
By Clarity (65), Whb on Feb 2, 11 9:15 PM
cops can place you in bracelets for yours and their own safety until their investigation is complete. You are being detained.

handcuffs and miranda do not go hand-in-hand.
By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Feb 3, 11 9:17 AM
The fact that the "police officers" had to review their tape makes me wonder what they saw in the first place. I would presume that the driving of Ms Kabot did not stand out as to warrant a police tail. Speeding and driving erractically would be reasons to stop someone. However, I also am of the opinion that
Ms. Kabot performed the arduous "sobriety" tests well. Just listening to the office explain them had me baffled as to how to perform and I was looking at it. In addition, this lady was an ...more
By Bridget325 (27), Hampton Bays on Feb 2, 11 11:40 PM
They didn't know it was LK until after they pulled her over and the police were respectful and courteous throughout. She rolled through a stop sign and swerved over the double yellow with a cop behind her - anyone would be pulled over for doing that no matter what the time of day.

How did she perform the tests well? Was it the part where she failed to keep her head straight and move her eyes?

Was it when she walked forward then backward (without putting her feet directing in ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Feb 3, 11 9:38 AM
I said it before and I'll say it again;

4 minutes of missing tape sounds very Nixonian to me.


bw
By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Feb 3, 11 9:18 AM
Spontaneous utterance that does not help her case and is sure being used against her, with the showing of this video in court. People have to learn to keep their mouths shut in these situations.
Thanks SH Press for showing the entire video the government released. Newsday showed a 1 minute edited version. What a joke.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Feb 3, 11 9:35 AM
I think the video speaks for itself. I believe it was reasonable for the officers to verify that they had caught the observations that led to the arrest on tape when they realized who it was they were arresting for DWI. It has been suggested the WHB police were more happy than usual to be making this arrest. Perhaps they were. This doesn't change the fact that she was DWI!
By METCOMedia (116), Hampton Bays on Feb 3, 11 10:45 AM
Mr. Aube said he learned of the arrest at about 12:15 a.m. on September 7 from a fellow Southampton Town Police officer, whose brother is a Westhampton Beach Village Police officer. --- Enough Said
By kpjc (161), east quogue on Feb 3, 11 5:02 PM
I feel the WHB officer did the right thing. The video tape speaks for itself she was DWI
By Bridgehampton (36), Bridgehampton on Feb 4, 11 10:56 PM
My opinion is that she had a responsibility as a public figure to set a good example and take that test.
By concerned citizen (41), Hampton Bays on Feb 9, 11 8:03 PM