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Prosecutors: Cop Didn’t Beat Man Outside Disco

June 13, 1996

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (AP) _ Prosecutors backed away from their claim that a white police officer severely beat a black man outside a nightclub, charging a friend of the officer’s with the assault Wednesday.

But they said Detective Constantine Chronis still ``assisted and abetted″ in the May 26 attack on Shane Daniels by allegedly pulling out a gun and threatening to shoot anyone who tried to stop the beating.

Two of Daniels’ friends testified Wednesday that Chronis held the weapon. They said that fighting broke out so swiftly and was so chaotic that they did not know the initial reason for the violence.

Investigators previously said the attack outside the Marakesh nightclub was triggered by racial slurs.

``When it got too rough, he pulled out a gun,″ Julio Rodriguez testified.

Austin Offen, who was questioned by police last week, was charged with assault after prosecutors determined that he was the one who allegedly beat Daniels with a steel club. The 25-year-old mortuary science student was being held without bail pending his arraignment Thursday.

Chronis still being held on the same assault charge. A judge refused to lower his $500,000 bail Wednesday and formally turned the case over to a grand jury.

Chronis’ lawyer, Stephen Grossman, said the 10-year-police veteran did not beat anyone and wanted to testify.

Offen is on probation for a 1991 attack at a fast-food restaurant that put an off-duty police officer in a hospital for months.

Offen’s attorney, Dominic Barbara, said Offen did not beat Daniels but was set upon by a group of blacks and only acted to defend himself.

Until Wednesday, investigators had not disputed the account that Chronis allegedly beat Daniels with the club while a companion held Daniels’ friends at bay with a gun.

Daniels, 21, came out of a coma and remains hospitalized in stable condition. His doctors say he could be released in two weeks, but could suffer some permanent loss of vision and memory.

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