Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
Federal Grand Jury Indicts Yonkers Police Officer
For Use Of Excessive Force Against Civilian
MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the indictment of Yonkers Police Department officer WAYNE SIMOES for violating the civil rights of IRMA MARQUEZ by using excessive force against her, resulting in bodily injury.
SIMOES was arrested on June 27, 2008, on a federal criminal Complaint, and was subsequently released on bond pending trial. According to the Indictment and Complaint filed in White Plains federal court: On March 3, 2007, SIMOES and several other police officers responded to a radio call to a restaurant in Yonkers, New York. While there, SIMOES walked over to MARQUEZ, grabbed her around the waist from behind, lifted her into the air, and threw her, face down, to the floor, before handcuff-ing her. MARQUEZ was hospitalized and suffered a broken jaw as well as lacerations and contusions to her face and body as a result of SIMOES’ use of force. SIMOES’ conduct was captured on videotape and witnessed by other officers.
The Indictment charges SIMOES with one count of violating federal civil rights laws, which make it a crime to willfully deprive a person of rights secured and protected by the Constitution of the United States, in this case the right to be free from the use of excessive force by a law enforcement officer in the course of an arrest, stop, or seizure. If convicted, SIMOES faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
SIMOES, 38, is a resident of Yonkers, New York. Assistant United States Attorneys JASON P.W. HALPERIN, ANNA M. SKOTKO, and BENJAMIN H. TORRANCE are in charge of the prosecution. The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and
the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Indictment Has Broad Implications
Immediately following last Tuesday afternoon’s announcement by the United States Attorney’s Office of the indictment of Yonkers Police Officer Wayne Simoes for the “willful assault” of Irma Marquez, in violation of her Constitutional rights, The Guardian was in contact with Ms. Marquez’ attorney, Gary Certain, of New York City. Mr. Certain gave us the following formal statement: “On behalf of Irma Marquez, and her family, we are very pleased with the federal grand jury indictment of Officer Simoes.
The United States Attorney’s Office, and the grand jury, should be commended for taking a stand against police brutality when Mayor Amicone, and the Yonkers Police Department, willfully chose to ignore the obvious. We hope that this indictment will pressure the Yonkers Police Department to take immediate action to terminate Officer Simoes.”
Asked about his client, Ms. Marquez’, present condition, Attorney Certain said, “She’s got a lot of problems. She requires seven to eight hours a day of therapy and attention for her head injuries; her memory loss, and her damaged thought processes, including cognitive losses.”
He then added, “She continues to have a blurred visual field in her right eye and serious problems with her jaw that was fractured, including alignment and clicking problems.”
After four attempts to obtain a statement Tuesday from Yonkers Police Commissioner Hartnett, finally, late in the afternoon, The Guardian was told, by a spokesperson, “The Police Commissioner will not be issuing a statement. And, you can call the United States Attorney’s Office for a comment.”
Reached by The Guardian earlier, Lucian Chalfen, chief spokesperson for District Attorney Janet DiFiore, stated, “There will be no statement from DA Janet DiFiore on the Simoes indictment.”
The indictment of Yonkers Police Of-ficer Wayne Simoes by a federal grand jury last Tuesday, August 19th, is a development with broad and powerful implications, not merely for Officer Simoes and the innocent woman he very nearly killed, but also for Mayor Amicone and his appointed Police Commissioner, Edmund Hartnett, as well as for Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
Given the irrefutable visual evidence from the concealed security camera at the scene of the incident, there can be little doubt that Officer Simoes’ willful and unprovoked brutality was the cause of the severe injuries inflicted upon Irma Marquez on March 3, 2007 from which she continues to suffer extreme pain and disablement, nearly 1½ years later. In light of the indictment, Simoes should be immediately suspended without pay.
As regards Police Commissioner Hartnett, our advice to Mayor Amicone is simple and to the point: Mr. Mayor, you have insisted upon
living in utter denial with respect to the extreme brutality of your police department. The Westchester Guardian has attempted to bring about reasonable and constructive dialogue and responses from you and your Police Commissioner from as far back as our Sept. 21, 2006 edition headlined, “Mother, 72, Daughter, 49, Charge Yonkers Police Brutality.” However, your combined response to that groundbreaking article, and numerous other subsequent reports, was to steal and destroy our distribution boxes; acts of complete criminal irresponsibility.
We now say, Mayor Amicone, you hired him, and now you must fire him as your last official act before you tender your resignation. As for District Attorney Janet DiFiore, clearly not installed by the citizens of Westchester, and just as clearly not committed to their welfare and well-being; she was shown the very same videotape seen by the federal grand jury who indicted Officer Simoes. She had access to all of the witnesses, the federal prosecutors and grand jurors had access to. And, yet, she decided to prosecute the victim, Irma Marquez, on trumped-up charges in May of this year, nearly one-year after knowing the truth, much as she continues to prosecute Rui Florim and dozens of other victims of Yonkers Police brutality. It’s all about her incestuous, political relationship with the Yonkers Department.
In a case such as the Marquez case, behavior of the kind DA DiFiore has manifested, goes far beyond the realm of “garden variety” prosecutorial misconduct. In truth, her actions are clearly in criminal co-conspiracy, after the fact; in a misguided, Abuse Of Process obviously intended to cover up the horrific, felonious acts of Yonkers Police.
A mere resignation from office by Janet DiFiore will not suffice. She must be fully investigated with respect to her totally inappropriate handling of police misconduct, not only as regards the Yonkers Police Department, but also the Harrison Department, and others as well. The FBI and the Justice Department have no other choice in this most serious matter.