Firefighter Rioters Off Hook - and Still Angry

They're free, and they're cleared - but some of the 18 firefighters busted at ground zero after last month's bitter Finest-vs.-Bravest brawl are still angry at the cops.

The harsh words came yesterday outside the Manhattan courtroom where a judge, on the recommendation of prosecutors, threw out all of the misdemeanor charges against the firefighters.

The 18 had faced up to a year in jail after getting busted in a protest over the city's later-revoked order reducing the number of firefighters assigned to the sacred site.

"They took detectives off of active homicide cases to investigate us - and they wanted to charge us with felony rioting," Lt. John Ginty complained of the cops, as he walked out of court.

Brooklyn firefighter Sean Nealon - who faced the most serious misdemeanor charges for allegedly striking a cop with a barricade - said the rally was simply too chaotic.

"It was just a mass of bodies on both sides," said Nealon. "The barrier was going to be pushed over whether it was me or the 1,000 guys behind me."

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Gregory Carro dismissed all charges after Assistant District Attorney Kavita Gopwani praised the heroism of the city's firefighters, and noted "the extraordinary physical and emotional burdens they have endured."

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