Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yonkers Cop and Yonkers DA Embarrass City through Mishandling of Police Brutality Case

While perusing Gothamist today I came upon a horrific story of police brutality up in Yonkers. It seems that Yonkers cop Wayne Simoes body-slammed a woman trying to help her niece through a medical emergency with EMTs last year. The woman, Irma Marquez, suffered brutal looking bruises, a broken jaw, and a four day stay at an area hospital. But her suffering did not end there, as she was arrested and eventually charged with obstruction of government administration and brought to trial last May, while Simoes got off scot-free and his actions were originally found to be within his professional code of conduct.

While the video is a little grainy and goes by quickly, Gothamist says that Marquez bumped into an officer at the scene (not clear whether it was Simoes), when Simoes approached and shoved Marquez. Marquez, as a human being, does not like being shoved, and objects to it (not physically, mind you). Simoes sees this as an invitation to slam her into the ground - head first. At trial, the jury acquitted Marquez of any wrongdoing.

So while Simoes may have thought he was getting off for beating on a woman, the feds stepped in and have charged him with violating Marquez's civil rights. Not only this, but one news outlet is reporting that the "blue wall of silence" that once protected Simoes has "crumbled." The officers at the scene, when presented with images of the highly incriminating videotape, stated that they felt Simoes went too far. If convicted, Simoes is looking at $250,000 down the drain and a harrowing 10 years in a federal pen.

What is more unbelievable about this story is the less than stellar job the DA's office did with this case. After an initial internal investigation within the police department cleared anyone of any wrongdoing, Mayor Phil Amicone said the city's officers "do their jobs the right way in full accordance with the law." Maybe he doesn't read the news much.

Since all of the bad press, however, Yonkers officials have turned to a time-proven political tactic: backpedaling. Westchester DA Janet DiFiore launched an internal investigation for her office, and has said that changes have been made (therefore, something clearly went wrong in this case). The Yonkers PD commissioner has requested that the internal affairs investigation be reopened. Looks like everyone involved in this case believes that Simoes did something wrong and that Marquez got the extremely short end of the proverbial stick.

Even if Simoes is acquitted of federal charges (though U.S. Attorneys don't tend to file charges on cases they don't think they have locked), the taxpayers of Yonkers can look forward to a settlement of the $11.3 million lawsuit that Marquez has pending against the police department. Peace.

Photos - Marquez's face after Simoes bodyslammed her to the ground (Gothamist), Yonkers Police Officer Wayne Simoes (Yonkers Tribune)

No comments:

Post a Comment