Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tragic Shooting Of Christopher Ridley Exposes
Hypocrisy And Cruelty Of DA Janet DiFiore
County Report, 60 Days In The Making, Dubbed “Police Reform Ideas For Dummies”
Last week two events, 24 hours apart, clearly demonstrated the utter hypocrisy and cruelty of Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore. On Tuesday, the 13th, Police Officer’s Memorial Day, DiFiore appeared alongside Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton Young and Police Commissioner David Chong in City Hall Plaza for the solemn memorial and awards ceremonies at which the parents of fallen hero, Detective Christopher Ridley, were given their son’s Medal of Honor. More than two dozen Mount Vernon police officers were recognized
for “their acts of valor.”
Twenty-four hours later, at a press conference in the same city, organized by the Westchester Chapter of the National Black Police Association, Officer Ridley’s mother, Felita Rucker Bouche, told The Guardian that District Attorney Janet DiFiore has continued to refuse to turn over her son’s personal effects, including the clothing he wore when he was killed in a hail of bullets fired by Westchester County Police Officers, unaware that he was a fellow police officer attempting to apprehend Anthony Jacobs, a violent, homeless assailant with a substantial criminal record. Ms. Bouche, accompanied by her attorney, Calvin Scholar, a family member who previously worked as an
Assistant District Attorney in DiFiore’s office, expressed her distress with the DA’s unwillingness to honor her request, “despite the fact that the case is closed.”
When advised that The Guardian would continue to demand that the videotapes of the tragic shooting be released in order to settle numerous
lingering questions, Attorney Scholar responded, “Requests for the tapes have been repeatedly refused.” Bouche added, “We were shown
only an edited version.” Damon K. Jones, Executive Director of Westchester Blacks In Law Enforcement, speaking to members of the press and media, declared, “The investigation into the death of Detective Ridley, as well as many other investigations into cases of alleged police
brutality and misconduct, have consistently shown that the New York Justice System is not blind when the colors are blue and black.” Jones continued, “The Westchester Chapter NBPA fully supports New York State Senator Eric Adams, Attorney Norman Siegel, Marq
Claxton, and One Hundred Blacks In Law Enforcement’s Proposal for a permanent state-level special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute cases that involve police brutality and police misconduct, especially those considered high-profile cases.”
Marq Claxton, of One Hundred Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care, next approached the podium, declaring, “There is a need for outside investigation of police criminality.” He did not mince words, stating flatly, “There exists an incestuous relationship in New York State between local police agencies and prosecutors.”
Claxton went on, “We are disappointed with the Governor’s muted response thus far. You can’t be involved in the issue for so many years, and then, when you have the opportunity, fail to bring about meaningful, comprehensive, revolutionary reform.” Pausing momentarily, he announced, “We are calling upon Governor Paterson to install an Independent Special Prosecutor, and a fully independent Crime Scene Investigation Unit.”
Holding a copy of the report just released by the County, ostensibly intended to recommend changes that would prevent incidents such as the Ridley tragedy, Claxton described it as, “Police Reform Ideas For Dummies; a few pages of worthless data.”
With obvious disgust and contempt for the Westchester District Attorney, Claxton declared, “What happened to Detective Ridley was not understood by those who insulted the Ridley family and the People of Westchester.”
It was very clear to this reporter that the Black law enforcement community was outraged by a worthless re-port issued by the County after 60 days, intended, in their view, to do nothing more than avoid blame and responsibility while accomplishing nothing to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
Claxton spoke about the need to pass legislation that would punish police and prosecutorial misconduct, noting that district attorneys such as Janet DiFiore were “merely politicians,” and that their conduct was driven by their need to maintain political connections with local police departments for selfserving purposes, and not, by any desire, to mete out justice.
Janet DiFiore has made several miscalculations with regard to the shooting death of Detective Christopher Ridley. From the very outset,
the “wall of silence” puncuated in the first 24 hours by her intentional leak that Sergeant Martin, an African-American, former Mount Vernon Police Officer, was one of the County Police involved. It is now believed that Martin never fired his weapon, a fact that would be exposed if the videotapes were released.
It is widely rumored that DA Di-Fiore, while out on the town with former White Plains Chief of Detectives Peter Viviano, in New York City several months ago, carelessly lost her gun and her badge, and was compelled to report the loss to the New York City Police Department. It is further rumored that she called upon Westchester County Police Commissioner Tom Belfiore, a former high-ranking New York City cop, to use his influence to keep her losses from getting out to the media.
Those, in the position to know, have suggested her secretive management of the Ridley investigation, and her refusal to release the videotapes that might be damaging to Belfiore’s department, and, in turn, to his reputation, were motivated by her need to repay his earlier favor to her; not to mention her obligations to Larry Schwartz and Andy Spano with regard to the “Election” of 2005. Relationships between prosecutors and police don’t get much more incestuous than that.
The Guardian has been calling for an FBI investigation of the Ridley shooting from Day One, as has the National Black Police Association. We do so once again, particularly in light of DA DiFiore’s refusal to release the videotapes, and Detective Ridley’s personal effects.