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Clearwater officer quits after N.Y. assault conviction

A Clearwater police officer has resigned after being found guilty earlier this month, in a New York state court, of assault and official misconduct for a 1987 incident when he was an officer in New York City. Gerard Rabasca, 25, cited only "personal reasons" for resigning, said acting Clearwater police spokesman Sgt. Dewey Williams.

"Once the verdict came down from New York, he had a lot on his mind," Williams said.

Rabasca was convicted Feb. 6 in Brooklyn state Supreme Court after a one-week, non-jury trial, a Kings County district attorney said.

The complaint against Rabasca involved a man in his custody who was handcuffed and beaten while in a patrol car.

Immediately after his conviction, Rabasca was placed on administrative leave with pay by Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein. Rabasca resigned Feb. 12, Williams said.

Klein said earlier this month that Clearwater's internal affairs investigators were to contact New York officials for documents from the proceedings involving Rabasca.

"There was considerable thought here on what action to take, but before anything could be done he resigned," Williams said.

Rabasca was hired by Clearwater police in August 1988, and no complaints have been filed against him, Klein said. The complaint in New York was made in April 1989, he said.

The charges stemmed from a Sept. 30, 1987, incident in which Sean Cummins, 24, of Brooklyn said he was handcuffed and beaten while in the back seat of Rabasca's patrol car.

Cummins said Rabasca hit him with a flashlight after Rabasca's former partner, Donald Swanda, 31, punched him in the face, breaking his nose.

Swanda was found innocent of all charges.

Cummins said he was repairing his mother's car when he was approached by two police officers who accused him of trying to steal the vehicle.

Charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct against Cummins were dropped.

Rabasca faces up to seven years in prison.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.