Will Officer Bubaris Be Sacrificed For The Sins Of Many?
Back on May 17th the front page of The Westchester Guardian declared “Perez Killing Demands FBI Investigation.” The editorial, In Our Opinion, opined, “It doesn’t require the wisdom of Solomon to recognize that neither the Mount Kisco Village Police, nor the Bedford Town Police Department, should be actively engaged in the investigation of the ‘death by homicide’ as determined by the Westchester Medical Examiner’s Office, of Rene Perez, in the early morning hours of April 29th.”
In light of the fact that officers from each of those departments had allegedly had contact with Mr. Perez, within
hours of his death, it appeared to The Guardian that “reasonableness, and professional investigative ethics demand(ed) that a thirdparty agency investigation be conducted.” The agency recommended by The Guardian was the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That position was justified, particularly given numerous cases involving police officers mishandled by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, cases such as Matthew McKerrick’s and Richard DiGuglielmo’s, in which innocent police officers were knowingly and maliciously subjected to prosecutorial misconduct, convicted, and sent to prison for political expedience. And, ADA Michael Hughes’ involvement, given his correspondence in the McKerrick case, suggesting that it didn’t matter
if the DA’s Office knew the man they prosecuted and sent to prison was innocent, does little to recommend
the integrity of the present investigation.
The indictment of Mount Kisco Police Officer George Bubaris, handed down by a grand jury several days ago, if anything, affirms The Guardian’s position and concerns. In fact, the indictment, first sought by prosecutors on August 21st, and finally obtained two weeks later, raises many more questions, not only about the circumstances surrounding Rene Perez’ death, but also about the relationship of the District Attorney’s Office with some forty-four police departments functioning within Westchester County.
It is noteworthy that although Westchester’s Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Luis Roh, declared that Perez’ death “was the result of a homicide,” that caused the tearing of the mesentery, a membrane that connects the intestines to the abdominal wall, Officer Bubaris is not charged with having delivered the deadly blow. He is not charged with any level of assault upon the person of Rene Perez, nor is anyone else.
Rather, Bubaris is charged with Second Degree Manslaughter, a Class C Felony, defined, as applied to the facts of this incident, as recklessly causing the death of another person; First Degree Unlawful Imprisonment, a
Class E Felony, defined as having restrained another person under circumstances which expose that person to a risk of serious physical injury; as well as two counts of Official Misconduct, a Class A Misdemeanor, presumably for engaging in “Border Dumping” as a knowingly unauthorized exercise of his official function. At her press conference, called to announce the indictment, the District Attorney declared, “The indictment specifically says Officer Bubaris restrained Rene Perez and exposed him to a risk of death.”
The first of many questions that come to mind, under the theory of this indictment, might be, “What if Mr. Perez had collapsed in the laundry or on the street, at Main Street, and Route 117, where Bedford Police reportedly had ‘border-dumped’ him following an earlier incident at Kohl’s in Bedford; would the Mount Kisco Police have conducted the investigation, and would a Bedford Police Officer, or Of-ficers have been indicted?”
Given that officers from both departments had each engaged in the unlawful, but, not necessarily unauthorized,
removal practice, did the determination of who, if anyone, was guilty of Manslaughter and other crimes rest solely upon who had had the last contact with Rene Perez before his alcoholic and neglected body gave out? Under these facts how does the United States Attorney’s Office permit the Bedford Police Department to be a participating agency in the investigation? How do they not see the glaring confl ict of interest?
Yes, unlawful perhaps; but was Officer Bubaris’ trip to Byram Lake Road in the Town of Bedford for the purpose of returning Perez to that jurisdiction, necessarily “unauthorized?” After all, Mount Kisco Police
Lieutenant Dunnigan had responded to the laundry together with Police Officer Dwyer, as well as Officer Bubaris. Dunnigan surely had the same opportunity to view and assess Perez’ sobriety and physical condition, as
had Bubaris. Clearly, he must have been aware of the ‘game plan’ for this vagrant immigrant who reportedly had had hundreds of such contacts between the Mount Kisco, and Bedford Police over more than a decade.
It is highly unlikely that Dunnigan, a superior o cer on the scene, had no knowledge of what would be done by Bubaris in dealing with Perez. Another question involves Dr. Luis Roh, who has come to be known by far too many criminal defense attorneys as a medical examiner who apparently has often said to the District Attorney’s Office, “Tell me what you want me to prove?” He turned the murder/suicide of Archie Harris, 79, by Betty Ramsharam, his home health aide, into a “double homicide” because Eastchester Police, and consequently the DA’s Office, needed him to, so that Selwyn Days, a perfect brain-damaged fall-guy could be convicted, and
more than $350,000 in cash and bearer bonds removed from the premises, and never accounted for by Eastchester Police, could finally be spent.
In the John Spruill case Roh had five Assistant DAs and four White Plains Police Officers at his side as he autopsied Spruill’s deceased aunt. Dr. Roh was so convinced that the middle-aged bus driver had strangled
his aged aunt, the only mother he had ever known. For Roh the fact that Spruill had attempted to stop his aunt from falling backward, tragically, but accidentally, falling on top of her in the process, was simply unacceptable because in DA Jeanine Pirro’s world nobody died by accident, especially when she could invent another Depraved Indifference Murder scenario.
Fortunately for Mr. Spruill, three medical examiners, including the Chief Medical Examiner of Suffolk County, and the judge/fact-finder in the case, thought otherwise.
How can we rely upon Dr. Roh’s analysis? Is it not even remotely possible that Rene Perez, in his drunken condition, might have fallen against a rock, or a guardrail, or some other object, thus injuring his already damaged abdominal area, either before, or a er being dropped off on Byram Lake Road?
Under the top count of the indictment, Second Degree Manslaughter, in order for Officer Bubaris’ conduct to have “recklessly caused the death” of Rene Perez, he had to have known, or should have known, of Perez’ failing physical condition. However, if it is presumed that he had that awareness so should Lieutenant Dunnigan, and Police Officer Dwyer, not to mention the Bedford Police Officers who apprehended Perez at Kohl’s and brought him to Mount Kisco. Why indict only Officer Bubaris? Was it some game of “hot potato” the officers were playing, and prosecutors are perpetuating; that whoever is holding the potato when the music stops gets indicted, and burned?
If not one of them is being accused of assaulting, or physically injuring, Rene Perez, then under the DA’s theory of guilt, aren’t each and every one of perhaps ve, or more Bedford and Mount Kisco Police Officers
who interacted with and disposed of this intoxicated vagrant immigrant collectively culpable in his ultimate death?
Why is one police o cer being sacrificed for the actions of several? And, why is there no attempt to determine if, in fact, the abdominal injury sustained by Mr. Perez was the result of someone’s criminal assault upon him, or merely an accident?
The family of Rene Perez, the Latino Community, Officer Bubaris and, indeed, all residents of Westchester, are entitled to a more honest and accurate outcome than this indictment represents. Given that there are no fewer than three other male Latinos whose deaths in the Mount Kisco area in recent years, have gone unsolved and unexplained, perhaps United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia might take a moment to rethink the level of his Office’s involvement in the Rene Perez case. After all, one would expect that if the full resources and attention of the Federal Government were applied, many more answers might have been produced. And, wouldn’t it be more just and fair to get all of the facts on the table now rather than subjecting Mr. Bubaris, and any other potential defendant, to the double jeopardy of a later reprosecution in Federal Court, as has too often
been the case?