The jury in the trial of Buffalo Police Officer Corey Krug was dismissed Tuesday, after reaching a partial verdict. But as WBFO’s Chris Caya reports, Krug’s legal troubles may not be over yet.
WBFO’s Chris Caya reports
CREDIT MIKE DESMOND/WBFO
Krug was accused by three men of using excessive force while he was on duty. The jury spent nearly eight days deliberating and found him not guilty on three counts. They were deadlocked on the fourth count.
A video of the 2014 incident, on Chippewa Street, showed Krug using his nightstick on Devin Ford who claimed he was assaulted without cause. Krug was represented by Attorney Terry Connors.
“I said a number of years ago when this first occurred that we think that the video actually helps us because the video shows how that individual grabbed the baton, grabbed the impact weapon, and how it put him in a struggle that he had to prevail,” Connors said.
The defense was covered by the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association. Its President John Evans says he never thought prosecutors had a strong case against Krug. But Evans is concerned about how it may impact police officers.
“It seems to me that any force is now deemed to be excessive, right? I mean judging from the accusations made against Corey throughout this it makes you not want to ever use any force. You know – put yourself through this, federal court, over going to work one day. It’s not good in my opinion,” Evans said.
In a written statement following the verdict, U.S. Attorney James Kennedy said federal prosecutors accept the jury’s verdict and will be seeking an immediate retrial of Krug on count four.
City of Buffalo Cell Block Attendant Matthew Jaskula assaults Shaun Porter on May 19, 2016 (snapshot from video footage)
Credit City of Buffalo
A video showing the 2016 beating of a man in the Buffalo Police lockup has gone public.
The footage shows cell block attendant Matthew Jaskula throwing suspect Shaun Porter to the floor, opening a bloody wound and then dragging him to a room. Two Buffalo police officers are seen standing by and watching.
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS DEPICTIONS OF VIOLENCE AND OTHER GRAPHIC CONTENT
Earlier this week, the City of Buffalo settled with Porter for $300,000. Niagara District Councilmember David Rivera, a former Buffalo Police officer, said there is no justification for using the force shown in the video.
Matthew Jaskula (right) leaves federal court in 2017 after pleading guilty to deprivation of civil rights in the 2016 incident inside the Buffalo Police jail cell block.
“I think we just have to go back and we have to make sure that this isn’t repeated again,” said Rivera. “The fact that this cell block attendant and these police officers were punished will send a signal to other police officers and other cell block attendants that you can’t do that. You just cannot use excessive force on prisoners or anyone, for that matter.”
Renowned personal injury attorney John Elmore points out that Jaskula was not a police officer. Even so, Elmore said cell bock attendants need to be properly trained to avoid behaving as Jaskula did
“Still, there has to be a process of selecting, weeding out those bad people at the academy,” said Elmore. “There has to be adequate supervision to make sure that never happens again, because what was shown on that tape was disgusting and should never be. Our taxpayers deserve better.”
Elmore said he is disappointed it took the city this long to reach a settlement. He agreed the video shows blatant excessive use of force that caused injury.
“The fact that they did nothing, I think, is a sign that there is a culture in the cell block which allowed that to happened and that culture needs to be changed,” Elmore said, “and certainly, culture changes begin with the administration at the top.”
Rivera, meanwhile, suggested that while $300,000 is a lot of taxpayer money, Porter could have sued the city for many millions more.
“Going forward, we want to limit the city’s liability, period. We want to make sure that incidents like this do not reoccur,” Rivera said, “and videos like this should be part of the training, so police officers can see that, even if you’re there, you have to do something. You just can’t allow anything like this from occuring in your presence.”
Civil Rights Attorney Matt Albert said he isn’t surprised by the video and that police violence and brutality has become normalized.
“It’s just the rare occasion when it’s actually caught on film and when that film is, after years and years of struggle, ordered to be released that it comes to the forefront of our attention,” Albert said. “When I see that video, it just screams for the absolute need to install body cams on every officer in their line of work.”
Albert said the community that deals the most with police officers alredy has a complete distrust with them.
“This is not to paint all officers with the same brush,” he said, “but there is a culture of brutality and cover up within the Buffalo Police Department. When something is exposed to the massers, such as the way the Porter video was, then ultimately those people who don’t have regular run-ins with the police get a glimpse as to what it’s really about out there, what really happened.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, joined by Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood and Deputy Commissioner Barbara Lark, apologized to Porter for the 2016 incident.
“It is an event that we are certainly are truly sorry for and, in particular to the young man that suffered this event,” Brown said. “We apologize to him, his family and his friends.”
Lockwood defended his department, meanwhile, saying those who commit acts such as what happened in 2016 are a small minority. He also spoke of efforts to improve workmanship as well as community trust.
“I think the majority of police officers, 99 percent of them, go out and do their job every day,” he said. “I think the direction we’re going right now, as far as community policing, I think it’s working in some ways.”
Buffalo Police Officer Corey R. Krug is accused of police brutality. (News file photo)
By Aaron Besecker|Published |Updated
Prosecutors and defense attorneys dissected video footage taken outside bars on Chippewa Street during testimony on Tuesday in the alleged brutality case against a Buffalo police officer.
The focus on the second day of testimony in Corey R. Krug’s trial – in which two fellow officers took the witness stand – centered on the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day 2014, as what’s known as the biggest bar night of the year was winding down in downtown Buffalo.
The civil rights case against Krug centers on what happened on Chippewa more than four years ago, along with two other separate allegations that he used excessive force. Krug’s defense attorneys argue his force was justified.
Jurors on Tuesday repeatedly were shown footage taken by a WKBW-TV photographer before, during and after Krug allegedly pushed a man against a car, took him to the ground and repeatedly hit him with a nightstick.
Devin Ford, of Lackawanna, the man seen in the video with Krug, had just been ejected from a Chippewa bar, along with another man after the other man sucker punched Ford inside, according to the testimony of two men who were out with Ford that night.
After the parties exited the former Indulge Bar & Night Club sometime around 3 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2014, the two sides nearly got into another physical confrontation in the middle of Chippewa Street, but were dispersed after police officers used pepper spray.
Men on each side of the dispute, despite the urging of officers to leave the area, seemed to be close to fighting again when officers intervened near the corner of Chippewa and Pearl streets, witnesses testified.
Officer Anniel Vidal, who was Krug’s partner that night working a special police detail in the Chippewa area, testified the apparent dispute that started inside Indulge lingered out on the street.
Police intervened because it appeared the men were going to start fighting again, Vidal told the court.
“All I saw was Officer Krug standing and I saw the guy on the ground,” Vidal testified. As he approached, Vidal said he ordered Ford – who was on his back – to get onto his stomach because he thought he was going to be arrested.
But Ford was not arrested and was allowed to walk away.
Officer Maurice Foster, who was stationed at the corner of Chippewa and Pearl that night, said he first noticed the WKBW cameraman walking down Chippewa. When Foster noticed the videographer was following Krug, he said he approached Krug to tell him the cameraman was following him.
Foster, who testified he had just separated two men involved in the dispute from inside the bar who had thrown punches, said he wasn’t telling his fellow officer because he felt Krug was doing anything wrong, but he wasn’t sure if Krug had heard him.
Krug’s defense attorneys grilled the day’s two other witnesses: Ford’s best friend, Sean M. Dechent, and his older brother, Justin Dechent, both of whom had accompanied Ford to a bar in Lackawanna before the trio came to Chippewa and visited two bars.
Ford’s injuries, including cuts and bruises on his legs, made him decide to sit out an annual football game played among friends later on Thanksgiving morning, Sean Dechent testified.
Ford, now 26, testified Monday about his encounter with Krug. “I just remember being on my back, saying ‘I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything,’ ” he said in court.
After video footage of their encounter first became public, the FBI investigated and found evidence of two other alleged incidents of brutality, both of them documented in earlier civil suits against the officer.
Krug, a Buffalo officer since 2000, was charged in August 2015 with deprivation of rights under color of law and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara at several points during Tuesday’s testimony found problematic some defense attorneys’ questions of witnesses about what was seen in the footage.
“The video speaks for itself,” the judge said at one point.
Defense attorneys argued Ford was lying in his accusations in order to bolster his pending lawsuit against Krug, the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo. The defense is also expected to introduce evidence of Krug’s record, including having made more than 1,000 arrests and his reputation for working in the city’s toughest neighborhoods and the everyday risks that go along with the job.
Krug’s trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Prosecution witnesses are expected to be called about an August 2010 incident in which Krug was accused of hitting a man with a metal flashlight during an alleged confrontation at the man’s Langmeyer Street home.
As trial nears for accused Buffalo police officer Corey Krug, federal prosecutors are seeking to introduce more evidence of alleged excessive force by the officer.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — As trial nears for accused Buffalo police officer Corey Krug, federal prosecutors are seeking to introduce more evidence of alleged excessive force by the officer.
The government, in recently filed court papers, plans to call witnesses who will speak about alleged “prior bad acts” by Krug from 2004, 2006 and 2007. The allegations were first reported by The Buffalo News .
The incidents involve an alleged 2004 assault on a handcuffed arrestee, when prosecutors say Krug stood on the suspect’s back, “jumped up and down,” then picked him up and slammed him against a van. Krug “later used an ice scraper” to scrape the suspect’s blood off the window of the van, prosecutors said.
The 2006 incident involved a domestic dispute in which Krug allegedly punched a handcuffed man in the jaw while he was already in a police car, prosecutors said.
In response, Krug — through court papers filed by defense attorneys Nicholas Romano and Terry Connors — called the new allegations “stale and unsubstantiated” and said the government is trying to “pile on” to beef up a “weak” case.
Krug “has worked the toughest beats and accepted all the rough assignments” for the police department, his lawyers wrote, adding that Krug made nearly 1,700 arrests in 20 years.
Federal Judge Richard J. Arcara will rule on whether the government will be allowed to introduce the new evidence.
Krug is already on trial for other incidents of alleged police brutality, including a 2014 incident caught on tape by a 7 Eyewitness News photographer on Chippewa Street early Thanksgiving morning.
The video of that incident shows Krug hitting a man with his baton and pushing him to a car and then to the ground.
Defense attorneys, in contrast, pointed to the relatively short trial, two weeks long, and argued in favor of keeping the panel at 12 members.
“Our preference is to seat a new juror,” said defense attorney Terrence M. Connors.
Prosecutors countered by pushing for an 11-member jury and arguing that existing jurors would find it difficult to ignore past discussions.
“We’ve had six days of deliberations,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango said Monday. “It would be extremely hard for jurors to put that out of their mind.”
The juror excused by Arcara is not the first juror to be removed. The judge also removed a juror on the first day of the trial, but replaced him with an alternate. That excused juror had noted that, several months ago, his son had a bullying encounter with one of Krug’s relatives.
At the core of the prosecution against Krug is a WKBW-TV video of his encounter with Devin Ford, one of his three accusers, on Chippewa Street on Thanksgiving morning in 2014.
Ford and the other two men claim Krug assaulted them without cause while on duty. Krug claims his use of force was justified and reasonable.
If convicted, Krug would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The trial, scheduled to begin Wednesday, will also cast a light on Gregory Kwiatkowski, a retired Buffalo police lieutenant who admitted putting his hands around Silmon’s neck that night. He will testify against Krug and Wendel as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
The defense is expected to challenge Kwiatkowski’s credibility as a government witness and point to a “long list of disciplinary issues.” Kwiatkowski retired in 2011 with three separate cases alleging improper conduct pending against him.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the coming trial but, in pre-trial briefs, outlined what they think happened to Silmon, identified in court papers as D.S. They claim it started with Krug firing the BB gun at Silmon.
“A BB lodged in D.S.’s lower leg in the first shot, and not only did Wendel fail to stop Krug from shooting D.S. with a BB gun the first time, he encouraged Krug to shoot D.S. a second time,” the government said in court papers.
Prosecutors said “after Wendel’s urging, Krug fired the BB gun a second time and hit D.S. near his genitals in the upper area of his upper thigh.”
Krug and Wendel are currently suspended with pay. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison.
With the case heading to trial this week, lawyers on both sides declined to comment.
While the allegations against Krug and Wendel date back nine years, the trial before U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny begins at a time when police shootings and police relations with African-Americans are in the spotlight.
Silmon and the three other teens arrested that night, all now in their 20s, are black. Krug and Wendel are white.
Even before they faced criminal charges, Krug and Wendel were defendants in a civil case that Silmon and Jeffrey E.Campbell II, one of the other teens, filed against the city.
Court records indicate Silmon received a $65,000 settlement while Campbell received $10,000. In the civil suit, Silmon said it was Krug who fired the BB gun and that Wendel was there, watching and laughing.
It’s not clear if the civil suit will be come up at the criminal trial and Skretny has voiced concerns that, if it does, it could result in “a trial within a trial.”
Led by defense lawyers Terrance M. Connors and Rodney O. Personius, Krug and Wendel are expected to counter with evidence of the teens’ actions that night in 2009.
Arrested in what police called a drive-by BB gun shooting, the teens were accused of firing into a crowd at Main and Custer streets and striking at least two people.
“At the time, Detective Krug and Officer Wendel were aware that numerous BB gun shootings had been occurring in the area over the course of a number of weeks, causing both property damage and personal injury,” Connors said in court papers.
The incident resulted in the four teens being charged with felony assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon but pleading guilty to a lesser charge of harassment. They were each sentenced to a conditional discharge and community service.
As part of their defense, Krug and Wendel may call the two shooting victims to the witness stand in order to offer evidence of their state of mind.
The defense is also expected to counter with questions about why the government waited until three days before the end of the statute of limitations to file criminal charges against the two officers.
Investigated by the FBI and indicted by a grand jury in 2014, five years after the incident, Krug and Wendel were initially charged along with Kwiatkowski.
The charges also came four years after Silmon and Campbell filed their civil suit.
It is possible the defense might also argue that Silmon and Campbell pointed the finger at Krug and Wendel in an effort to increase the number of defendants in their civil suit and the potential for a large monetary award.
In court papers, Personius said the criminal case, which came later, forced the two men to stick with their stories or face perjury or false statement charges.
The trial, delayed twice, almost went to a different judge earlier this year but, at the defense’s urging, Skretny kept the case.
Connors said “recruiting a new judge would be at the expense of all parties, especially Detective Krug and Officer Wendel.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron J. Mango and John D. Fabian are leading the prosecution.
Deputy Adam Fiegl faces three charges in felony case.
By Melinda Miller
Published Tue, Apr 19, 2016
An sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Erie County Holding Center has been charged with smuggling drugs for at least one jail inmate.
Deputy Adam M. Fiegl, 32, of Orchard Park, faces three felony counts after being arrested when he reported to work Monday afternoon, Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said Tuesday.
Authorities charged Fiegl with soliciting and receiving a $200 bribe, introducing contraband into a prison and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The deputy has been accused of smuggling Suboxone, a pain medication also used to treat addiction to pain medication, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning before Buffalo City Court Judge Susan M. Eagan.
Assistant District Attorney Paul E. Bonanno asked that the judge set significant bail because “the defendant, by his conduct, demonstrated that he is not a trustworthy individual.”
Fiegl’s attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou, said his client had served two tours in Iraq while in the Army, was a member of the Military Police and also was in the National Guard.
Eagan set bail at $15,000 and ordered that Fiegl surrender any firearms that he owns or that are in his residence. Eoannou said he expected that Fiegl would post bail Tuesday. He returns to court Friday for a felony hearing, and his case is also being presented to a grand jury.
Fiegl, who was hired in 2013, has been suspended without pay pending criminal proceedings and an internal investigation by the Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s Narcotics Unit and the Jail Management Division collaborated on the investigation. Investigators executed a search warrant and found about 20 Suboxone pills and a receipt indicating that he spent the $200. At a news conference with acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr., Howard said they believe that they know the source of the opiates but did not want to comment while the investigation continues.
Flaherty noted that drugs are “not an uncommon item of contraband” found in the Holding Center, with various means of entry, including through visitors and packages.
Howard said, “We haven’t forgotten the inmate in the case. We think we know who (Fiegl) acted with.”
The arrest of a deputy is disturbing, Howard added. “All of us in law enforcement feel a sense of betrayal and embarrassment,” he said.