ROCHESTER, NY- There was a time not so long ago when the word of police backed up by a sworn affidavit and presentation of evidence was enough for a court of law to be able to find either guilt or innocence of criminals. That does not to be the case anymore.
Here is the background to the case. In July to police officers in Rochester, NY approached a group of people in an area known for drug activity.
As they approached the group, one Treiquan Hawkins pulled a gun on them. The officers fought with Hawkins before they were able to take him into custody.
At the time of the incident, the chief of the Rochester PD, La’Ron Singletary said that the officers had been in a “fight for their lives.”
The chief also praised the neighbors who alerted police and said that he believes community involvement is critical to stopping crime.
“We can’t do it alone,” he said. “We need the help of the entire community to do that, and that’s exactly what happened last night. Residents stepped up to the plate, officers addressed a quality-of-life situation in that neighborhood that, quite frankly, residents were tired of.”
“It was driven by neighborhood complaint, and that’s what I have been asking residents to do in this city, and they stepped up,” he said.
Their actions were also praised by Rochester mayor Lovely Warren.
“This incident demonstrates why the men and women of the Rochester Police Department are so deserving of our respect and admiration,” she said. “It perfectly illustrates a single thought that every officer and their families carry with them at all times: that there is no such thing as a routine call for service: that at any moment our officers can be engaged in a fight for their own lives and those they are sworn to protect and serve—even those they are trying to bring into custody.”
It seemed like a typical felony arrest.
Hawkins, a convicted felon was charged with numerous offenses: second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, menacing of a police officer, two counts of second-degree assault on a police officer, obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Of course, his attorney said that Hawkins was just sitting around, minding his own business, with nary a care in the world when the big bad police officers came up and started to harass him for no reason. Pretty close. Hawkins was allegedly sitting in a lawn chair when he was confronted by police.
His attorney Paul Guerrieri said, “There was no indication there was any drug dealing. There was no indication anyone was being disorderly. There was no indication a crime was going on whatsoever.” Of course not.
Officers Jeremy Lindauer II and Michael Mortiloaro were on patrol in July in an area that was the target of complaints from neighbors about drug activity and loitering.
Just before 6:30 p.m., the two officers approached a group of people and asked them for identification. This is when Hawkins drew a loaded handgun from a satchel.
Lindauer and Mortiloaro began to struggle with Hawkins over the handgun. It was knocked to the ground at one point, but Hawkins was able to retrieve it.
Finally, the officers gained control of the weapon and Hawkins was taken into custody. Right out of the dirtbag playbook, he complained about difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital for treatment.
The two police officers were also taken to the hospital with minor injuries to their hands and arms, according to police.
There was one problem for the two officers who arrested Hawkins. Their body-work cameras, which could have cleared up what happened during the altercation, were not on. This is what ultimately led the judge to dismiss the charges.
“We were surprised that neither officer had engaged their body-worn cameras,” said Guerrieri. Rochester PD policy states that both officers should have engaged their cameras before approaching the suspect.
One of the officer testified in a hearing and blamed a software glitch, according to Guerrieri.
“The body cameras beep when you turn them on so you should know. They flash a red LED light so you should know,” according to Guerrieri. “It’s not just one officer that didn’t have the camera on. It was both officers.
A spokesman for the Rochester PD said that body-worn cameras are regularly checked and there have been no known malfunctions.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Tom Moran presides over gun court and heard Hawkins’ case. He ruled that the weapon police recovered cannot be used as evidence.
He further held that the testimony of the police officer(s) could not be used without the body camera footage to back it up. Finally, he ruled without the video there was no probably cause for the arrest, causing him to dismiss the charges. So apparently, sworn affidavits and testimony from duly sworn police officers is no longer valid?
Moran doesn’t appear to be a typical left-wing hack. He is a former police officer, a former deputy and also formerly served as a prosecutor. Still this ruling is pretty questionable.
The mayor’s office declined comment. The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office said once the charges were dismissed, there was no way to move forward with a prosecution.
“The cameras are supposed to be on,” said Guerrieri. “The ultimate result of officers refusing to turn these cameras on is going to be the dismissal of cases.
Just another hill that police are now being forced to climb.