Thursday, March 26, 2009
Parents File Suit In Federal Court On
Behalf Of Children Brutalized By
Mount Vernon And Yonkers Police
Last Wednesday, March 18, Civil Rights Attorney Jonathan Lovett, accompanied by parents of three boys, all African-American, ages 12, 13 and 13, as well as the 12-year-old himself, held a press conference on the Mount Vernon City Hall Plaza opposite Police Headquarters to announce the filing of a $6 million federal lawsuit.
The suit filed specifically against 14-year-veteran Mount Vernon Police Sergeant Michael Marcucilli and several unnamed police officers from both the Mount Vernon and Yonkers Police Departments, as well as each of those cities, alleges violations of both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and 42 U.S.C. Section 1985, carried out against each of the three boys as well as the mother of one of the boys.
With respect to the three young boys, the complaint charges that on February 28, 2009, Sergeant Marcucilli and Mount Vernon and Yonkers
police officers, including a K-9 handler and his dog, responded to an alarm at the A.B. Davis Middle School on Gramatan Ave., Mount Vernon. Having arrived at the scene, the complaint further alleges that they observed the three young boys and “agreed to collectively beat and/or otherwise physically abuse and verbally intimidate them because of their race and/or skin color.”
Specifically, the complaint alleges one boy, the 12-year-old, was shouted to with, “Where are you going, nigger?”, was punched several times in the face, and ordered, “Shut up, nigger” when he told the officer beating him and pushing his face into the dirt, “I’m only 12 years old.
Why are you doing this to me?” It is further alleged that he was handcuffed behind and struck repeatedly with a metal baton on the left side of his head, causing a serious injury to his left ear requiring 19 stitches and more than two hours of surgery to stop the bleeding.
The boy’s father declared, “You are not going to beat my son like a piece of meat.” Demanding the badges of the officers involved, he said, “Nobody deserves to be beaten like that. This is unacceptable.”
The boy’s mother explained to reporters how the police lied to her about how he was injured, trying to say that her son had fallen down
stairs. She told of telephone harassment from the Mount Vernon Police and of their coming around her house to intimidate her and her family. The mother of a second boy, a Mount Vernon schoolteacher, was, herself, the target of harassment and police brutality by the same Sergeant Marcucilli several weeks before the incident involving the three boys.
Following a bogus traffic stop, she reportedly was pulled from her car and beaten with a metal baton, inflicting serious bruises to her leg.
Her 13-year-old son was choked by his sweatshirt from behind for “an extended period of time, placing him in fear that he might suffer an asthma attack and die,” and causing a serious welt on his neck. Police lied about the nature of his injury as well.
The third boy, also 13 years old, was bitten and repeatedly mauled by the police dog called in with his handler from the Yonkers Police Department K-9 Unit, “while he was on the ground helpless.” At the same moment, he was beaten with a baton and told, “Get your fat black ass up.” Attorney Jonathan Lovett told the media and press, “Juries in federal court are smart, and they know racism when they see it.” Asked about the District Attorney, Janet DiFiore, and her statement that she was going to investigate the incident, Lovett declared, “For her to claim that she is going to investigate is ludicrous, given that my clients are charged with felonies. She ought to dismiss all of the charges against these children.”
Damon K. Jones, executive director of the Westchester chapter of the National Black Police Association told reporters, “This is normal
activity in the Westchester community.” He called for the resignation of DA Janet Difiore and Police Commissioner David Chong.
Reverend W. Franklyn Richardson expressed his outrage at what had been done to the three young boys and one of their mothers, declaring,
with respect to the police officers involved, “Call us nigger, beat up our children; and, we pay you?”
Asked by this reporter if he intended to go to the district attorney about the incident, Richardson responded that he had already spoken with DiFiore the day before. Apparently he took little comfort from what she may have said as he was still very angry and outraged. Richardson concluded his remarks, predicting and threatening, “The People will march in the streets over racist police brutality.”
Mount Vernon Mayor Young And
Police Commissioner Chong Offer No
Comfort, No Assurances To Outraged Citizens
Immediately following the press conference held by the parents of three young African-American boys savaged and racially attacked by a combined task force of Mount Vernon and Yonkers police, Mount Vernon Mayor Clinton I. Young and Police Commissioner David Chong held a press conference of their own in the Mayor’s Chambers.
Mayor Young got off on the wrong foot, declaring, “If the purpose of bringing a lawsuit is to divide this City, that will not be accomplished.” He then attempted to appear to be on the right side of the issue, saying, “Even the mere allegation of excessive force is troubling to me.”
Young then made an effort to reassure the media and, in turn, the citizens of the Mount Vernon community that the Mount Vernon Police Department’s Internal Investigation Unit, and the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, would produce the truth and see to it that any
wrongdoers were dealt with.
Police Commissioner Chong followed the Mayor, also attempting to calm the outrage and the anger brought on by the racial and violent character of the excessive punishment meted out by his police officers acting in concert with Yonkers police officers, in a scenario very reminiscent of Selma, Alabama in the early 60s. Given the description of what had been done to three young boys, all that was missing
were the pressure hoses. Chong also emphasized that the DA’s Office was investigating.
When the Mayor once again spoke, he attempted to urge the children and their parents to cooperate with the District Attorney. At that point, this reporter asked the Mayor, “How can you and Commissioner Chong expect people to feel confident about the District Attorney’s
involvement in light of her repeated history of prosecuting victims of police brutality as in the Irma Marquez and Rui Florim cases, and many others not so well known?”
The Mayor could not respond directly, and instead, indicated that he preferred to concentrate on “the elements of the Mount Vernon case.”