I-Team 10 update: Hughes found not guilty of assault
Posted at: 10/01/2012 6:40 AM
| Updated at: 10/01/2012 5:59 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
An Irondequoit Police Officer who is standing trial for beating up a man at a city nightclub is found not guilty of assault.
Officer Jason Hughes and his brother James had been charged with misdemeanor assault after a bar fight was caught on surveillance tape. The brothers had their non-jury trial last week with Judge Stephen Miller deciding the verdict.
I-Team 10 spoke with the Irondequoit Police Chief and Jason Hughes will be reinstated to his position later this week. In a split verdict, a judge decided he was not guilty of assault, but did convict Jason’s brother.
Jason Hughes emerged from court looking stoic, no evidence of the victory on his face. The Irondequoit Police Officer was cleared of assaulting Guillermo Franco of Rochester at a bar in the city last year. The evidence at the heart of the case was the surveillance video that captured the confrontation. There was no jury to see it. The case was decided by Judge Stephen Miller at a bench trial.
Lawrence Andolina, Hughes’s Attorney, said, "In the context of a bar fight, where a lot of people were drinking and people saw different things that other people didn't see, so I think it was the appropriate verdict in regard to Jason.”
While the judge found Jason Hughes blameless, the same could not be said for his brother. James Hughes was found guilty of assaulting Franco which left the victim with a concussion and a cut over his eye that required 13 stitches.
Caroline Morrison, Assistant District Attorney, said, “We put on all of the evidence and obviously our position was that both individuals were guilty, but I'm glad Mr. Franco has some closure."
Asked for reaction after court, Franco seemed resigned to the split verdict.
Guillermo Franco, assault victim, said, "it's hard to find one guilty and not the other one. But again, that's how justice works I guess."
When I-Team 10 first spoke with Franco, he said he had been at Vinyl Night Club with a female friend in May 2011. He says he returned from the bathroom to find Hughes grinding up against her and tried to step in.
The confrontation was captured by a camera inside the nightclub. From it, you can see Franco get pushed backward as Jason Hughes in the darker shirt and his brother in the white shirt continue to move toward him. At one point, a female bartender jumps on Hughes's back to break it up. Franco is then thrown backward into the bar. He claims the men started kicking him while he was on the ground.
Franco said, "Um yeah. I mean, we all thought the video was pretty clear. But again, things happen, so he thought otherwise.”
Hughes has been suspended with pay for the past year. On Monday, Irondequoit Chief Richard Boyan said Hughes will return to work later this week, but does still face an internal investigation to determine if he violated any departmental rules and regulations.
Andolina said, "By all accounts, everybody I've talked to, this young man is a terrific cop, his supervisors all are very supportive and hopefully Irondequoit will benefit from having him back."
As for James Hughes, he was immediately sentenced after his guilty verdict was read. The judge gave him a one year conditional discharge and ordered him to do 50 hours of community service.
Franco still has a cut over his eye, but he was fortunate in that he had no permanent injury to his eye. He says he feels fine, but does still suffer from occasional headaches.