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Friday, January 23, 2015

Sacramento County, California Sheriff's Deputy Who Illegally Parked in Handicap Parking Space; "We're Allowed to Get Breaks."




By Davy V.

What do you do if you're a law enforcement officer who has just been busted on video abusing your authority by illegally parking in a handicap parking space, and a taxpayer, questions you about it?

Just do what most law enforcement officers would do.

Reply with the typical above the law, sense of entitlement swagger, and 
come up with some b.s. sarcastic remark.

That's exactly what a Sacramento County, California Sheriff's deputy did after a man video recorded her illegally parked in a handicap parking space.

The video begins with the SCSO deputy walking towards her marked police cruiser holding snacks, including a super size drink in hand, that she just picked up at a Circle K convenience store.

Then the man who's video recording her comes on.

"You always park in handicap when you're not on a call?", the man asks the deputy.

"We're allowed to get breaks," the deputy replies.

"There's a parking spot right here though ma'm," the man tells the deputy, referring to an empty parking space right next to the handicap space she's occupying.

Which by the way, just happens to be the only handicap parking space in the parking lot.

"There wasn't one when I pulled in," the deputy replies.

"She seemed to feel like she was entitled to it," the man told KTLA 5 news, going on to describe the deputy as thinking she's somehow exempt from the laws.

The same laws me and you are expected to abide by.

"I'm very disappointed, frankly it is completely inconsistent with our values," said Sacramento undersheriff James Lewis, after watching the video.

Undersheriff Lewis said that the matter has been turned over to the department's internal affairs division for an "investigation."

Lewis said that disciplinary actions can range anywheres from "documented counseling to termination."

Can you imagine if this smart, alert citizen had not done some quick thinking and video recorded this incident of yet another cop clearly thinking she's above the law?

Certainly the deputy and the undersheriff would have denied it ever even happened.

Which is, why I always say... 

COPS LIE. RECORD EVERYTHING.


Click link below to watch video.



Please Support My Film "A Promise to My Dad"

A Promise to My Dad

'A Promise To My Dad' is a documentary film about a promise I made to my father at his wake, after my father committed suicide.

The short film explores the life of my dad, Mario Vara  as he leaves Cuba with my mom and older brother in 1968, in search of freedom and a better life for our family.

After moving the family to Rochester, NY, my father realizes that despite the promises of freedom and liberty that a life in America can bring, the harsh reality is that there are many injustices as well.

In fact, my dad would soon face very similar 'police state' tactics, as the ones he escaped his homeland for in the first place.

"A Promise to My Dad" highlights an incident in the 1980's, when Rochester Police officers Mark Mariano and Randall Benjamin kicked down the family's door, illegally entering our home, terrorizing me and my family at gunpoint.

As a result of that incident, my dad becomes outspoken against police abuse and misconduct.

Unlike many Americans who take their rights for granted, my dad took a stand to denounce law enforcement violating U.S. citizen's civil rights.

Having lived a communist dictatorship, my dad knew all too well what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state, where simply expressing one's dislike for Castro and his government could land you in prison.

My dad was passionate in his denouncement of rogue cops abusing and violating citizen's civil rights in the U.S.

As a teen, I would tag  along with my dad accompanying him to community meetings, rallies, and marches where he, along with other citizens demanded accountability from those whose job is to serve and protect, as well as the elected officials whose job it is to keep them in check.

'A Promise To My Dad' features me telling my dad's story, including talking about my father's depression and how it led to him committing suicide in 1993, after the Rochester, NY Police Department targeted my father through a series of selective harassment and intimidation tactics. 

'A Promise to My Dad' follows me as I struggle to keep the promise I made to my dad, to continue his work against police misconduct and corruption, while at the same time trying to find my own identity as a young man, then as a father myself.

Throughout the film I will talk about my own struggles with depression, my father's suicide, and the effects that my work has brought to me and my family, including my children being stalked and receiving death threats.

One example of this came in August of 2014, when an ex-con who is known to work with Rochester Police as a paid confidential informant (C.I.) was captured on a store's surveillance video threatening to murder, and decapitate my 5-year old daughter.

Despite the video clearly showing the individual threatening to kill and decapitate an innocent child, Rochester Police and the Monroe County, NY District Attorney's office, including D.A. Sandra Doorley, refused to charge the individual.

Please support my film "A Promise to My Dad" by making a donation.

It's easy to do.

Just click on the link below which will take you to my blog.

Once there, click on the 'Donate' icon located at the top right of the page and follow the easy steps.

All donations are secure through PayPal.

Any donation over $35.00 receives a free 'A Promise to My Dad' t-shirt.

Just be sure to include your address when making your donation.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Brighton, NY Police officer Mike Romach Thinks That Me Exercising My Right to Free Speech is Threatening.



By Davy V.

Last May I wrote about Brighton, NY Police officer Mike Romach saving the lives of a mother and daughter who were inside a burning home.

Rochester's lame stream news media did a 5 second report of the fire but failed to give credit where credit was due.

And that was Brighton, NY Police officers Mike Romach and Brad Steve.

So I made sure to highlight these officer's life saving actions.

The story received great response from my readers and was a refreshing, welcome change to the usual stories we see every day of rogue, dirty cops abusing their authority.

Fast forward to tonight.

I walk into a 7 eleven store where Brighton, NY Police officer Mike Romach loves to hang out at, and sure enough, there's officer Romach.

Hanging out.

Shooting the shit with the store clerk.

I walk up to officer Romach, extend my handshake to him and wish him a happy new year.

Officer Romach reluctantly meets my hand with his and gives me a very dirty look accompanied by a curled upper lip frown.

Pure disdain.

And disgust.

And here's why.

Officer Romach's best friend was fellow East Rochester, NY native and Rochester Police officer Daryl Pierson.

Officer Pierson was shot and killed on September 3, 2014.

And immediately, Rochester's lame stream news media, the same news media who just four months earlier ignored Brighton Police officer Mike Romach's heroic life saving actions with that house fire, made Pierson an instant hero.

Knowing nothing about Pierson, or his corrupt RPD tactical unit goons, Rochester's lame stream news media, was so interested in exploiting and sensationalizing a cop's death, that they basically made him into a martyr who as they said, gave his life trying to make Rochester, NY a safer city.

And I called bullshit.

In several pieces I questioned this cop being made a saint.

And just recently I exposed a very dirty secret.

That officer Pierson's commander, Rochester Police Lt. Eric Paul is banging Pierson's widow.

And I wrote about how members of the RPD were so heated when they found out that officials recommended to Lt. Eric Paul that it was in his best interest to take an early retirement.

For his own safety.

And as Brighton Police officer Mike Romach gave me that dirty look, I realized he's not too happy with me.

And it's pretty obvious why.

His feelings are hurt.

So I tried to talk to him.

Not because I care what he or any other coo thinks of me, because I don't.

But because as a man, I'm all about 'clearing the air.'

I don't do dirty looks.

Or frowns.

And I'm not Billy Idol, so I don't curl my top lip up either.

So I told officer Romach that I knew he wasn't happy with the things I had written.

And I told him that frankly, I didn't care.

Just like he, the Brighton Police department, the Rochester Police department, and Monroe County, NY District Attorney Sandra Doorley didn't care when an ex-con turned confidential informant threatened to murder and decapitate my 5-year old daughter and put her head on the roof of my car.

And I told him that.

Everything I just wrote, I told to officer Romach.

His response?

"That had nothing to do with me."

Really?

I told him that as a father himself he should be ashamed of his response.

Then officer Romach did one of the most cowardly things that cops do when they can't stand a citizen standing up to them.

"Are you threatening me?," officer Romach asked me.

No officer Romach.

I would never threaten you.

That's not me.

It's called free speech.

Officer Romach, I'm not afraid to exercise my right as a taxpayer and to express my disappointment in you and your profession sir.

And I'm not intimidated by you falsely accusing me of threatening you either.

Those well known police intimidation and scare tactics don't work on me sir.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rochester, NY Main Street Armory Exposed: "The owner and staff divide up and keep all confiscated weapons and drugs."

                   Scott Donaldson


By Davy V.

On Tuesday, Scott Donaldson, the owner of the Main Street Armory in Rochester, NY, got in front of news cameras and announced that he was banning hip hop concerts at his establishment.

Wearing sunglasses, Donaldson, who is blind, said that after several fights and shootings which preceded hip hop concerts, he decided to no longer allow any more rap concerts.

Stopping short of blaming African-Americans and Latinos, Donaldson, who is white, would only say that "Stabbings, shootings, it's attracting the wrong people. We don't want to do that anymore."

"The wrong people"?

What "people" is Scott Donaldson referring to?

Blacks?

Latinos?

Not surprisingly, there's one thing that Scott Donaldson, who purchased the Main Street Armory in 2005 for only $1,000, did not mention.

According to an employee of the Main Street Armory, Donaldson's security staff searches minority concert goers, and confiscates illegal weapons such as knives, as well as drugs including marijuana.

Ok.

You may ask what's wrong with that?

Shouldn't security confiscate drugs and weapons?

Well, according to the employee who spoke to me on the condition of anonymity, it's what the security staff and Scott Donaldson do with the confiscated weapons and drugs, which is disturbing. 

"It all goes in boxes, the drugs, the knives," the employee said, "Then the owner and staff divide up and keep all confiscated weapons and drugs."

So let me get this straight.

Ok, so Scott Donaldson, a white man, who has made tons of money from black and Latino concert goers, is now blaming those same minority concert goers for violence?

Those same minority patrons who have made him a very rich man?

And now it turns out that all along Scott Donaldson and his security/bouncers have been confiscating illegal weapons and drugs from those same minority concert goers, and keeping the drugs and weapons for him and his staff?

And now, he makes a decision to ban hip hop concerts?

Saying "It's attracting the wrong people" ?

Interesting.

"The thing is Scott Donaldson doesn't want to pay for armed security, he wants to cut corners," the employee told me.

The employee also told me that Donaldson's claims of violence is exaggerated and unfairly targets hip hop music.

In fact the employee mentioned a recent hip hop concert at the Main Street Armory, on October 2nd, where hip hop legend Nas kicked off his "Time Is Illmatic" tour, which he says was peaceful.

"It was a great show," the employee said, "There were no incidents and everyone had a great time, Nas played his classics and there was no violence."


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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rochester, NY Police Department's Professional Standards Section (Internal Affairs) Exonerates Rogue Street Cops Who Beat Disabled Amputee



By Davy V.


Last October, this blog hit 1 Million views.

Not bad for a little blog which began as a simple short article I wrote on knowing your rights when stopped by police, and which now has an international following.

One of my goals with this blog has been to open it up to individuals who share my passion.

A passion to stand up to police misconduct and corruption and to be a voice for innocent victims of rogue, abusive cops.

Some of those victims may be too afraid to speak out and let their voices be heard.

Others can't tell their stories because they have been executed by trigger happy cops.

One of those persons who shares my passion for exposing injustices such as police brutality, and corruption, is my good friend Theodore Forsyth, or as I like to call him, Ted.

Ted is a writer for Rochester Indymedia, which serves as an alternative to Rochester, NY's Corporate-America run news media.

Or as I like to call them, "LAMESTREAM" news media.

Ted is also an activist.

It is my pleasure to introduce Ted to all of you, the readers, the ones who faithfully follow this blog.

It is also my pleasure to introduce Ted to all the haters and trolls!

(Insert LOL!)

Ted will be a regular contributor here.

Below is Ted's first piece on the blog.

Welcome Ted, it's so nice to have you on!







     



By Ted Forsyth 


Benny Warr attacked by Rochester, NY Police officers 



On May 1, 2013, Benny Warr, a disabled, African American man, was waiting for a bus at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Bartlett Street in his motorized wheelchair. As he waited, a Rochester Police Department (RPD) cruiser rolled up and officers got out and started telling people to move on.

According to an interview conducted on local radio station 96.5FM WCMF, former Chief of Police James Sheppard said that the officers were tasked with “clearing the block” because the RPD works “very closely with the Jefferson Avenue Business Association.” However, while people were outside enjoying a nice evening and inadvertently exercising their Constitutional rights, the police acted on the alleged agitation of the business association. According to the chief, “what they [the businesses on Jefferson Ave.] don't want is when you have these clusters of people that hanging out and selling dope—it kills business.” The RPD apparently took orders from the business association that made it criminal to be on the sidewalks congregating—even though, according to James Muhammad of the Jefferson Avenue Business Association at a community rally in support of Mr. Warr on May 18, 2013, “We did not give the police the task to do what they did.”

The two officers who were telling people to move on, officers Joseph “Joey” M. Ferrigno II and Anthony “Rock” R. Liberatore, approached Mr. Warr and gave him the same order.

According to Mr. Warr, officer Ferrigno told him to “Move.”

“Sir, I'm catching a bus.” said Mr. Warr.

“I said fucking move!” officer Ferrigno responded.

When he tried to explain that he was waiting for the bus, officer Ferrigno sprayed him in the face with OC spray as officer Liberatore violently pushed over and threw Mr. Warr out of his motorized wheelchair onto the ground injuring his left side and stump where his prosthetic leg attaches.

Shortly after Mr. Warr was thrown to the ground, officer Liberatore “delivered an elbow strike to Mr. Warr's head in the hopes of ending the situation as fast as possible,” according to the investigative summary provided by Professional Standards Section (PSS) (internal investigations) of the RPD.

According to independent witness affidavits and video recordings, officers Liberatore and Ferrigno violently kicked, kneed, and punched Mr. Warr all over his body including his head, ribs, stomach, chest, and back. Officer Liberatore decided that he needed to subdue Mr. Warr—for his and Mr. Warr's safety—and used an “untrained technique” on his victim: a downward elbow strike to the head.

Again, according to independent witnesses, as Mr. Warr was being violently assaulted by the officers, RPD Sergeant Mitchell “Big Face” R. Stewart II arrived to assist in the arrest of Mr. Warr as he was punched, kicked, and handcuffed by the officers.

According to La'Shanda Flowers, Tache Young, Derrick Latham, Mary Adams, and Ricardo Adams—all independent witnesses—Mr. Warr did nothing to provoke the police violence he endured and he did nothing to resist arrest once the attack began. Mr. Warr was left on the ground waiting for an ambulance, after he was handcuffed, for nearly 25 minutes.

Mr. Warr was eventually transported to Strong Memorial Hospital for medical treatment. Mr. Burkwit states, "Prior to his arrival at Strong, Mr. Warr consistently complained to the officers that his eyes and face were burning due to the mace but the officers never washed or provided Mr. Warr with anything to clean his face. He also told the officers that his handcuffs were too tight but none of the officers loosened or removed the handcuffs until after Mr. Warr arrived," at the hospital for treatment. 

While at Strong Memorial Hospital, he was given an appearance ticked and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Mr. Warr and his supporters attended Rochester City Court with him as his criminal case was pending before Rochester City Court Judge Stephen T. Miller throughout the summer. On August 9, 2013, the judge granted an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal with respect to the charges.


The Rochester Police Department's Internal Investigation

The Professional Standards Section of the RPD—internal investigations—opened an investigation on May 13, 2014, by then-chief James Sheppard. The investigation was looking at three separate allegations against the officers involved—one for unlawful arrest, one for excessive use of force, and one for discourtesy.

As to the first allegation regarding unlawful arrest, the PSS investigation found that it was Unprovable. Attorney Charles F. Burkwit, who is representing Mr. Warr, rightfully questioned this ruling. Evidence considered by PSS in its finding were the conflicting testimonies of the officers and Mr. Warr, the New York State Penal Law, the New York State Court of Appeals ruling of People v. Baker, and the lack of independent witnesses. PSS justified it's ruling on the “public harm” element based in People v. Baker, a disorderly conduct charge—primarily based on the police narrative—that Mr. Warr made “unreasonable noise,” he used “abusive or obscene language” in public, that he was “congregat[ing] with other persons in a public place and refuse[d] to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse,” and finally, because there was a lack of independent witnesses to give a counter-narrative.

Right off the bat, at least one independent witness—Tache Young—could have been contacted by the investigators. PSS knew of Ms. Young because Charles F. Burkwit, had served a Verified Notice of Claim, verified May 17, 2013, on behalf of Mr. Warr upon the City of Rochester where the true identity of the YouTube.com video's videographer—Tache Young—was disclosed—four days after the RPD chief ordered the initiation of an investigation into what happened on May 1, 2013.

Mr. Burkwit questioned, “Would Tache Young and La'Shanda Flowers' testimony have changed the unlawful arrest determination from unprovable to proven? One must question why these known independent key witnesses were never contacted in this case by the Rochester Police Department.”

Again, regarding the first allegation of unlawful arrest, Mr. Burkwit questioned why the “Professional Standards Section did not cite the complete holding in People v. Baker, which held that isolated statements using coarse language to criticize the actions of a police officer, unaccompanied by provocative acts or other aggravating circumstances, will rarely afford a basis to infer the presence of 'public harm' mens rea necessary to support a disorderly conduct charge.” Further, when “a defendant makes abusive or profane statements” and those statements are “not accompanied by menacing conduct,”  and where there is no basis to “infer the officer felt threatened by the statements” that there basically isn't enough evidence to support the “public harm” element for a disorderly conduct arrest. This “public harm” element is further diluted by the fact that there were two officers at the scene because, according to the ruling, others in the vicinity would not risk “join[ing] forces with the defendant to gang up on the arresting officer.”

According to PSS, they have clarified that “the risk of public disorder does not have to be realized but the circumstances must be such that defendant's intent to create such a threat (or reckless disregard thereof) can be readily inferred.”

So, the police argue, regarding People v. Baker, that if there is a contradiction in what actually happened, then they will pass judgement based on a potentially latent, unrealized threat of public disorder. This goes against the case law cited above. And because Mr. Warr is deemed the defendant (and clearly guilty until proven innocent—informally turning the rule of law on its head), PSS will take the word of the officer over the defendant because the officer is a sworn public servant. And because we all know that the word of a white officer is worth more than black life, based on the recent non-indictments of the killer cops who murdered Michael Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, and so many others, their narrative—the State's narrative—takes precedence. But wait, what if there was another witness, from above, viewing the whole thing? In Benny Warr's case, there was another such witness.

Turns out, PSS never utilized the City of Rochester's Blue Light Camera surveillance footage for this allegation of unlawful arrest in their investigation. If they had, they might have reconsidered their ruling. According to Mr. Burkwit and his careful analysis of the blue light surveillance camera footage, “[I]f Benny Warr had used profanity towards the officers, which he denies, the Blue Light Camera footage does not show the officers were alarmed in any manner, does not show others were alarmed and began assembling or that the officers were in any type of danger. Rather, the Blue Light camera footage shows Officers Liberatore and Ferrigno arriving and pedestrians, including Benny Warr, promptly leaving the east side of Jefferson Avenue. Within two (2) minutes after the officers' arrival, the group that was in front of 580 Jefferson Avenue is gone as per the Blue Light Camera. Officer Ferrigno's claim that a large group gathered and became very irate and anti-police cannot be supported by the objective blue light camera footage.”

As to the second allegation regarding excessive use of force, PSS recommended the finding of Exonerated for the officers regarding excessive use of force, regardless of the affidavits of independent witnesses who saw the unprovoked police brutality. Ms. Young was mentioned above as the videographer whose video was published on YouTube.com. She recounts, in her affidavit dated May 25, 2013, that “the officers kicked Benny Warr in his head and side and kneed him. At no time did Benny Warr do anything to provoke the attack and he did not try to resist being arrested by the police officers.” While her video was considered in the investigation, her testimony was never sought by the police.

Derrick Latham, another independent witness, stated in his affidavit dated April 15, 2014, “Officer Joey maced Benny. The bald officer pushed Benny's wheelchair over. Benny landed on the sidewalk. One officer put his knee in Benny's back. They were trying to put cuffs on Benny. Benny said he was not resisting. I think the officers kicked Benny when he was on the ground, and they kneed Benny while he was on the ground. I was about five feet from Benny when this happened.”

Another independent witness, La'Shanda Flowers, wrote in her affidavit dated May 22, 2013, “Benny did not do anything toward the officers. Benny did not swing at the officers. He did not try to hit the officers. The officers grabbed Benny and threw him to the ground. After they threw him to the ground, one of the officers put his knee in Benny's back. I could not understand why the police were doing this to Benny—I told them this—they told me to get away.” She crossed the street as ordered and told other police officers that what they were doing “was wrong.” For this, she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Then there's the testimony provided by Rochester City School District School Board Commissioner Mary Adams to the PSS investigation on June 10, 2013. While her account was recorded and supposedly considered, it looks as if it was summarily discarded. Mrs. Adams testified that she saw both officers “kicking, hitting, pushing, shoving” Mr. Warr and that she saw one of the officers kick Mr. Warr “particularly hard” in his head. She told PSS that the kick “was as if it was just like an emotional hatred, violent kick for no other reason than hatred towards this man.” Mrs. Adams said that she saw the officer take a few steps back to gain momentum for his kick. The PSS investigative summary paraphrased Mrs. Adams as saying that she did “did not observe any kind of resistance on behalf of Mr. Warr.”

Mr. Burkwit also noted inconsistencies in the police reports where the officers clearly contradict each other, the independent witnesses, and the blue light surveillance camera footage: “The [PSS] summary relies solely upon the testimony of the three officers involved in the arrest of Benny Warr. The report recites how Mr. Warr was swinging both arms wildly to avoid Officer Ferrigno's grasp. The report further concludes that Officer Liberatore believes that Mr. Warr hit Officer Ferrigno with his arms. This contradicts Officer Ferrigno's Statement to the Professional Standards Section that he was 'punched' in the genitals by Mr. Warr. There is no proof that Officer Ferrigno was ever punched by Mr. Warr apart from his own self serving statement. The video footage and independent witnesses only support this conclusion.”

Lastly, regarding this allegation of excessive force, according to an internal correspondence between Lieutenant Jeremy Anzalone, and Lieutenant Michael Callari, officer Liberatore's elbow strike to Mr. Warr's face was an “untrained technique” of the RPD. The use of this “untrained technique” didn't have any bearing on the outcome of the investigation based on the “totality of the circumstances,” which created a “tactical dilemma” for the officers according to Sergeant Andy McPherson.

“These are factors which the officers quickly have to process and make [sic] decision of how to react in order to maintain their safety as well as that of Mr. Warr's,” the PSS investigative summary notes. This assertion, of “safety,” is laughable if it wasn't for the violent actions of the police officers that came down on Mr. Warr, after his Constitutional rights were violated, after chemical weapons were used upon him, and after he was violently assaulted by police after which, he was arrested and charged with crimes. Who are the police protecting? Who are they keeping safe? It appears no one except their own.

Sgt. McPherson, the PSS investigative summary noted, is the RPD's Defensive Tactics Coordinator as well as the head instructor for the Public Safety Training Facility for new recruits. In his determination, after he reviewed both the cell phone video and the blue light surveillance camera footage, and met with officer Liberatore, he found that the use of force was “reasonable and appropriate.” The summary does not indicate that he contacted any independent witnesses for their accounts of what happened.

Finally, as to the last allegation regarding discourtesy, PSS recommended a finding of Unprovable for officer Ferrigno and a finding of Sustained for officer Liberatore--specifically because he admitted during the investigation that he threatened Mr. Warr with the words, “Are you ready to get your ass kicked?” Officer Liberatore, of course, would never say this to be discourteous, but “to use language that is best understood and complied with on the street.” What does this mean? According to PSS, the officers were cleared of wrong-doing by the RPD's internal investigation except for Liberatore's discourtesy. There is no mention in the PSS investigation of any action taken against officer Liberatore. Presumably its findings are passed onto the chief to take (or not) a final, private, disciplinary action against the officer if he deems it necessary.

That was the outcome of the official investigation in all of its incompetent glory. Not unexpectedly, in their internal investigation, the police failed to contact independent witnesses, played hard and fast with the facts in citing the City of Rochester's own video surveillance footage, relied solely on the testimony of the officers to make its decision, and apparently didn't see any problem with using contradictory testimony, statements, and reports from the officers involved. Bluntly, this “investigation” was a farce, and worse, it appears to be legal. This is what happens when police are allowed to police the police. The public gets zero accountability.

Legally, the Civilian Review Board Should Have Reviewed The Case; It Didn't.

This needs to be stated very clearly. According to City of Rochester mandatory procedures as well as the Civilian Review Board (CRB) legislation passed in October of 1992, regarding claims against officers where a charge of excessive force is alleged,  Benny Warr's case should have been heard by the CRB. But, it wasn't.

According to a revised Proof of Evidence brief from Mr. Warr's attorney, dated December 4, 2014, Spencer L. Ash, Esq., the attorney representing the City of Rochester in Mr. Warr’s pending civil rights action, has confirmed in his motion affidavit that “there was no Civilian Review Board review of this matter”.

A little over a year ago, it was reported in the Democrat & Chronicle on December 7, 2013 that Mr. Warr's case may not have even been reviewed by the CRB. According to columnist Erica Bryant,  “As it stands, we don't even know if the Civilian Review Board, which a part of the Center for Dispute Settlement, is reviewing his case. The Civilian Review Board is not allowed to release details about the cases it handles.”

And now, according to the City's affidavit, mandatory procedure and law were disregarded. The "why" has yet to be determined. The disregarded mandatory procedure and law are in complete contradiction with City's stated policy. “If your complaint includes excessive force or charges an officer with a crime, it will also be reviewed by a Civilian Review Board (CRB). The Board includes three citizens who are not members of the Police Department,” according to the City of Rochester's website. In this case, neither the City of Rochester nor the RPD referred the case to the CRB. No independent witnesses were called to speak to what happened because the City, it appears, refused to follow its own procedure.

In October of 1992, the City of Rochester approved Resolution 92-40, “which creates a Civilian Review Board for specific complaints of police misconduct and which also recommends a variety of operational refinements to the police recruitment, training, and supervision processes,”  according to the legislation submitted for approval to City Council by then-City Councilmember-at-Large Wade S. Norwood. Mr. Norwood continues in his letter to council that, “The newly created Civilian Review Board (CRB) will review the investigations of the Professional Standards Section (PSS) of the Police Department on cases involving the following:

    •        All charges of excessive use of force.
    •        Any conduct which, if proven, would constitute a crime.
    •        Any other matters referred to the CRB by the Chief of Police.

The Civilian Review Board will then make a finding, as appropriate, with respect to each allegation, and will report such findings to the Chief of Police.”



Incidentally, in May of 2014, I sent a message to Mr. Norwood introducing myself as an Indymedia journalist. I asked him how effective he thought the CRB had been to date and what he thought about the calls for an independent civilian review board. He thanked me for the offer to be interviewed but declined. “As you know, my work as a Regent and as FLHSA Associate Executive Director require that I advocate with regard to community health and education. Given the complexity and breadth of those policy domains, it is important that I not engage in issues that are outside of my mission service,” he wrote.



In a phone conversation I had with Mr. Burkwit on December 12, 2014, he said to me that he had heard that a City attorney told a Democrat & Chronicle reporter that, “Because Benny's case was sued, that's why it never went to the Civilian Review Board.” He continued, “I told [the reporter] essentially that's false because Benny first reported this case to the Professional Standards Section in June [of 2013] and, that is when the Civilian Review Board should have gotten the case. A Civilian Review Board case should have been opened promptly. We didn't even sue the case out until around September 19, 2013—three months later.”



According to Mr. Burkwit, Mr. Warr had the right to complain to the RPD internally and to pursue all other available remedies. “Even though we served a notice of claim [in May], that did not prevent Benny from complaining to the RPD. RPD opened a file on it, they gave it to the Professional Standards Section, they fully rifled through it—it should have gone to the Civilian Review Board as well. Perhaps there would have been a much different outcome had it gone to the Civilian Review Board.” Mr. Burkwit speculated, “I think they would have found that excessive force was used and I think that's why it never went there (the Civilian Review Board) because the officers could not be exonerated with an adverse finding."


Mr. Warr Goes to Federal Court

On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, 2PM, at the Federal Building on State Street in Rochester, NY, Judge Marian Payson will hear oral arguments from Mr. Burkwit on behalf of Mr. Warr demanding that the City release all the discovery documents requested by Mr. Burkwit. “I'm asking for the personnel files for the officers. I'm also asking the City [of Rochester] to divulge any instances of police misconduct and civil rights actions over the last 10 years—I'm really diving into whatever documentation they have—any documentation they have concerning the officers and their histories and any prior complaints.”

Mr. Burkwit did acknowledge that the City turned over some documentation, but not all. “The City [of Rochester] did give me the concise history report for the officers and Ferrigno and Liberatore both had some prior instances noted. So I am asking for some more specific information on that.”

The public is welcome to attend Judge Payson's court on January 13, 2015 at 2:00pm in order to hear oral arguments. Please bring your I.D. as you cannot enter the Federal Building on State Streetwithout one. Enough Is Enough is planning a press conference with Mr. Warr and his lawyer the next day.


Corruption Abounds

It's hard to imagine that the City of Rochester disregarded its own stated policy and legislation in regards to the Civilian Review Board and is now refusing to turn over documentation to Mr. Warr's lawyer. It's even harder to imagine that this case has dragged on for almost two years—and it's not even at the trial phase. However, I am not surprised by, and certainly can imagine, that the so-called “investigation” was really more of a rubber stamp session giving passes to violent officers who routinely use their police powers to mete out brutality and misconduct in order to get compliance from the people they are sworn to protect. They don't have the nicknames “Joey” “Rock” “Big Face” “Cowboy” “Drake” and others for nothing. The communities in which these officers patrol bestowed these nicknames upon them because of their heinous and barbaric acts. Their nicknames are used in the community as identifiers and warning signs. What it seems to come down to is what people have always known—especially those in Black, Brown, and poor communities—that the police are violent criminals who do not follow their own rules and cannot police themselves.

Benny Warr, a disabled, Black elder, who was beaten mercilessly by RPD officers and suffers to this day because of it, had his case essentially dismissed by a completely farcical, corrupt, and incompetent, police internal investigation. This is a case that should have found its way to the CRB, but didn't. We have corrupt officials, in charge of corrupt investigations, looking into and finding no issue with corrupt police officers' actions, who regularly conduct police harassment and misconduct.



In Mr. Warr's case, the chief failed to inform the CRB, Mr. Burkwit said in our phone conversation. “The police cannot be trusted to investigate their own. The city has swept the excessive force problems under the rug,” he told me. “The Civilian Review Board never heard Benny's case? The political machine is broken.”


Click link below to watch video of Benny Warr being beaten by Rochester Police officers.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

Dumb and Dumber Cops Lose Shotgun

By Davy V.

Two Sheriff deputies from the Lost Hills, California Sheriff's Station (Yes you read that right, LOST Hills Sheriff's Station) have LOST a bean bag shotgun which can be used as a regular shotgun if loaded with buckshot or lead slug shells.

Here's the story.

The Barney Fife deputies put the shotgun, which was loaded with four beanbag shells, in a black canvas case, then placed that case in the trunk of their police cruiser, early Saturday morning, at the Agoura Hills Sheriff's station.

The deputies then drove to Hollywood, which is about 33 miles away.

Upon exiting the Sunset Boulevard off-ramp, the deputies were flagged down by a citizen who told them that the trunk of their police cruiser sad open.

If was then that the deputies searched the trunk and discovered the missing shotgun.

If wasn't long before an A.P.B. was put out to all surrounding law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for the shotgun.

Officers from several departments, including the California Highway Patrol and the L.A.P.D. were on the hunt.

Even a Los Angeles Sheriff!s Department helicopter crew searched the entire route the deputies travelled.

Nothing.

There you go, Lost Hills, California taxpayers!

Your hard earned taxpayer dollars at work.



PLEASE SUPPORT MY FILM, 'A PROMISE TO MY DAD'

'A Promise To My Dad' is a documentary film about a promise I made to my father at his wake, after he committed suicide.

The short film will explore my dad  Mario Vara's life as he leaves Cuba with my mom and my brother in 1968, in search of freedom and a better life for his family.

After moving to Rochester, NY, my dad realized that despite the promises of freedom and liberty that a life in America held, the harsh reality is that there are also many injustices as well.

In fact, my Dad will soon face very similar 'police state' tactics, as the ones he escaped his homeland for in the first place.

'A Promise to My Dad' highlights an incident in the 1980's, when Rochester, NY Police officers Mark Mariano and Randall Benjamin kicked down our home's front door, and illegally entered out home, terrorizing our family at gunpoint, even threatening to shoot our dog.

As a result of this incident. my father Mario Vara became outspoken against police abuse and misconduct.

Unlike many Americans who take their rights for granted, my Dad took a stand to denounce law enforcement violating U.S. citizen's civil rights.

Having lived a communist dictatorship, my father knew all too well what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state, where simply expressing one's dislike for Castro and his government could land you in prison.

My Dad was passionate in his denouncement of rogue cops abusing and violating citizen's civil rights in the U.S.

As a teen. I would tag along with my Dad and accompany him to community meetings, rallies, and marches where my Dad demanded accountability from those whose job is to serve and protect, as well as the elected officials whose job it is to keep them in check.

'A Promise To My Dad' features me telling my Dad's story, including talking about my father's depression and how it led to my father committing suicide in 1993.

'A Promise to My Dad' follows me as I struggle to keep the promise I made to my father to continue his work against police misconduct and corruption, while at the same time trying to find my own identity as a young man, then as a father myself.

Throughout the film I will confront my own struggles with depression, my father's suicide, and the effects that my work has brought to me and my family, including my children having received death threats.

One example of this came in August of 2014, when an ex-con who is known to work with the Rochester Police Department, as a paid confidential informant (C.I.) was captured on a store's surveillance video threatening to murder, and decapitate my 5-year old daughter.

Despite the video clearly showing the individual threatening to kill and decapitate an innocent child, Rochester Police and the Monroe County, NY District Attorney's office refused to charge the individual.


Please support my film "A Promise to My Dad" by making a donation.

It's easy to do.

Just click on the 'Donate' icon located at the top right of this page and follow the easy steps.

All donations are secure through PayPal.

Any donation over $35.00 receives a free 'A Promise to My Dad' t-shirt.

Just be sure to include your address when making your donation.

Thank you.


Click link below for more on 'A Promise to My Dad'.


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