Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Staten Island Officers Indicted in Halloween "Arrest"

As I discussed last November, two NYPD officers out of Staten Island's 120th Precinct got in way over their heads when they decided to mess around with a 14 year old kid who they thought was throwing eggs at cars on Halloween night. Instead of arresting the boy (I don't even know if you can get arrested for that, back in my city the cops just took your eggs and told you to get lost), they put him in cuffs, put him the back of their police car and drove him to a remote part of River Road in the neighborhood of Bloomfield - three miles from where they picked the boy up - and told the boy to get out of the car. They then, according to the Staten Island Advance - allegedly began prodding him in the ribs with their boots until another call came over the radio. They then uncuffed the boy - some reports say they removed his shirt and shoes, others say the boy did this himself to avoid detection in the dark woods (these items where white) when he saw a pair of headlights that he feared were the two cops coming back - and left him there. The boy ended up at a nearby Burlington Coat Factory in his shorts, where he was helped by a security guard. Good thing the cops got another call, who knows what they would have done had they not had to do real police work.

The two cops - Richard Danese and Thomas Elliassen - were indicted on Monday of 33 counts, some of which are felonies. When the arrests occurred the cops only got DATs and were suspended without pay before being reassigned to modified duty (according to the SI Advance). But to make matters worse for himself, Richard Danese decided to illegally log onto a computer at the Brooklyn Gang Squad (where he was reassigned) with a seargent's log-in and password to look up the boy's past criminal history (once) as well as the boy's father's (38 times). That won't help with professing your innocence. For these actions, Danese has been charged with additional crimes which could put him in the pokey for four years. One of the cops has been alleged to have said, "We know you and all your nigger friends [the boy is black] friends talk about how you don't like us. We don't like you either." This would be hard to prove in court, because it's going to boil down to a he-said-he-said argument, but if these two are convicted of this, I wouldn't doubt that one of them said that. It takes a twisted person to leave a 14 year old boy in the middle of the woods by himself at night. Imagine if something had happened to him out there?

Obviously with the Sean Bell case currently taking place, this is not good for the NYPD's public image. It makes one wonder what the screening process is for people who want to join the NYPD as people like this can make it onto the force (as one commenter here said). The two have been suspended without pay and are expected to be arraigned on these charges today (the suspension apparently can last up to 30 days, so it will be interesting to see what the NYPD does after the 30 days, as Richard Danese has proven himself to be a liability even in modified duty). If convicted, of course, these two lose their jobs automatically because felons cannot serve on the force (though those convicted of misdemeanors can, so maybe they'll plead out to keep their jobs, which, it seems, they should not have anyway). Peace.

Photos - Thomas Elliassen (left) and Richard Danese outside of Staten Island Supreme Court on Tuesday (www.nydailynews.com), A Staten Island Advance article with some details about the crime, with the boy's face cropped out (northshore.noizart.com)

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