Thursday, April 3, 2008
Lest We Forget...
...Arrogance And Self-Serving Manipulation
Are Nothing New From Janet DiFiore
We are told by people in a position to know that the morale in the Westchester District Attorney’s Office has never been lower than it is right now, two months following the tragic death of Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley at the hands of four Westchester County fellow officers. With allegations of Subornation Of Perjury against Assistant DA Barbara Egenhauser, involved up to her eyeballs in a retaliatory action by Harrison Police Chief Hall and Captain Marriccini against veteran Police Officer Ralph Tancredi; and, disclosures
of witness intimidation and coercion by Dobbs Ferry Police under pressure from Assistant DA Patricia Murphy, exposed at the Evidentiary Appeals Hearing of former New York City Transit Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo, already recently casting new doubt upon the lawfulness and integrity of her Office, Janet DiFiore has now come under intense fire and suspicion for her handling of the shooting death of young Mount Vernon Police Officer Christopher Ridley.
The family and friends of Officer Ridley, the Mount Vernon Police Department, the National Black Police Association, the Mount Vernon community-at large, and its leading clergy, as well as people all across Westchester, are crying out for answers. They are demanding to know what actually happened on the sidewalk in front of 85 Court Street, White Plains, a few minutes before 5pm on Friday evening, January 25, that cost Officer Ridley his life. People are simply not willing to accept the notion that what happened was the only thing that could have happened, under the circumstances. They are unwilling to accept that conclusion because it does not portend well for the future, particularly the future of Black police officers, their safety and well-being. To add insult to injury, DA DiFiore has chosen to pursue a course of action that flies in the face of those most hurt and troubled by the manner in which Christopher Ridley lost his life. The so-called investigation, shrouded in secrecy and plagued with calculated and deliberate leaks, has infuriated Officer Ridley’s family and friends, whose feelings and intelligence are offended by the racial overtones, and manipulation of information, from the very beginning.
The immediate, deliberate leak to the media that Sergeant Martin, a Black officer, was one of the County Police Off-icers involved, intentionally making it initially appear that he might even have been acting alone, is particularly bothersome to many individuals given the
fact that it is now widely believed that, of the four County officers present, his was the only gun which was not fired. Reportedly, no shell casings were recovered from his gun. Damon K. Jones, President of the Westchester Chapter of the National Black Police Association, has issued a statement asking, “Now that it has come to light that the only Black County Police Officer did not fire his weapon, shouldn’t we
question the reason why he was pointed out to be the lone gunman from the first accounts from authorities?”
When Reverend Richardson proclaimed, at the recent protest rally, “It was a mistake not to call for an independent investigation from the beginning; the District Attorney and the White Plains and County Police are too close,” he was really expressing his, and the community’s, distrust of Janet DiFiore, and acknowledging their understanding that she lacks the moral authority to do the right thing.
Lest we forget, it was just two and a half years ago, when her powerful New York City attorney-husband, Dennis Glazer, attempted to
bribe the Right-To-Life candidate for DA, Anthony DeCintio, off the ballot with the promise of “a free hand in the office,” a guaranteed job,
if Janet won. And, then there was the ethnically-charged hate literature she circulated against Tony Castro that had Latino leaders up in arms
at the same time, literature filled with lies and defamatory fiction.
It is with good cause that Rev. Richardson and leading clergy in Mount Vernon have called upon Attorney General Cuomo to step into the Ridley investigation. They know that Janet DiFiore’s misrepresentations extend even further back than the election of 2005. Perhaps they recall her totally fabricated claim, several years earlier, when she ran unsuccessfully for County Court against Les Adler, claiming that she “had prosecuted 2,000 cases” as an assistant district attorney. The Journal News, in one of its finer pieces of investigative journalism, put the lie to her claim, uncovering the fact that she had barely prosecuted 12, none of them serious felonies.
Somehow, like her predecessor, Janet DiFiore operates under the notion that the Law is what she says it is. Under her rules, innocent individuals such as Anthony DiSimone could rot in prison even though she was concealing a mountain of evidence that completely exonerated him. Under her rules, it is okay to conceal the crimes of her political allies, but prosecute their innocent foes. Under her rules, the truth of how a young, dedicated police officer tragically came to lose his life at the hands of other police officers, must be concealed so as not to embarrass her pals in County government, Larry Schwartz, Andy Spano, Tom Belfiore, even if it means withholding the truth, the details that, if known, might help prevent a recurrence.
We believe the People of Mount Vernon, indeed the entire Westchester community, will not tolerate the concealment of truth nor the disrespect for the life and spirit of Officer Christopher Ridley that DA Janet DiFiore’s “investigation” represents. Nothing short of releasing
the videotapes will satisfy the People’s Right To Know, and restore their confidence that Christopher will not have died in vain.