Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Court Report
By Rcihard Blassberg
Mount Vernon Police Call In Yonkers K-9
Squad To Help Punish 3 Young Boys
12-Year-Old’s Ear Torn Open By Police Baton; Requiring 19 Stitches
Three boys, whose names we are withholding because of their ages, friends 12, 13 and 14 years old, kids who should have known better; kids
who play Little League baseball, and one of whose dad is a coach, were clearly up to mischief at A.B. Davis Middle School in Mount Vernon, the school two of them attend, Saturday evening, Feb. 28. They were going through the hall and had written on the locker of a friend or two, by their own admission. Their activity set off an alarm which sent a six-man contingent of Mount Vernon police to the school under the supervision of Sergeant Michael Marcucilli, a 14-year veteran of the Department.
By their own account, the Mount Vernon Police arrived on the scene some time after 8pm, and, apparently decided that six armed police officers were not sufficient to handle and bring the situation under control; and so, not having access to their own police dog, they called in the Yonkers Police Department’s K-9 Unit.
What followed next played out like a scene from Selma, Alabama in the early 60s. A combined force of ten police officers, all White, with dogs, attacked the youths. All that was missing were the high-pressure water hoses. The youngest boy, upon seeing the flashlight of police, headed for the door. Once outside he was grabbed, handcuffed behind his back, and pushed face-first into the dirt, with two cops, one of them Sergeant Marcucilli, on his back. He was getting a beating with a metal retractable baton and punched in the face each time he lifted his head to breathe. When he cried out, “I’m 12 years old, why are you doing this?” he was told, “Shut up, nigger.”
He was struck so hard with the baton to his head that it tore open his left ear, causing profuse bleeding that required 19 stitches to repair. He was yelled at and told that he had better not tell anyone what was done to him; that he had better say that he fell down the stairs, or else they would come get him and beat him again.
His two friends, who remained inside the building, fared no better. One 13, the other 14, who was from New Rochelle, were each mauled by
the police dogs turned loose on them for no good reason. Additionally, the boy from New Rochelle was choked repeatedly with his hooded sweatshirt, leaving a large mark on his neck resembling a rope burn.
The fact is the three boys were beaten, bitten, and bleeding so badly that the police were compelled to call for medical units to transport them directly to Mount Vernon Hospital. At the hospital, the police continued to repeat the lie to the boys’ parents that one of them had fallen down stairs and another had nearly gone over a wall attempting to escape them. The 12-year-old, who weighs all of 120 lbs, and is 5 feet 6 inches tall, in addition to his lacerated ear, came away with a broken nose, a black eye, and severely sore ribs. For 10 days he required strong medication for severe headaches and body soreness. His parents, who we met four days after the incident, his mother in particular,
were so fearful from repeated harassing calls and drive-by surveillance of their apartment by the Mount Vernon Police, that they left their home and moved in with relatives in The Bronx. The mother of the oldest boy, from New Rochelle, as it happens, is a teacher in the Mount Vernon school system who, weeks before the incident, had been pulled over in Mount Vernon supposedly for running a stop sign, pulled out of her car after having been issued summonses and beaten and bruised on her leg with a metal baton. Then, as is so often done to cover up unjustifiable police brutality, she was falsely charged with assaulting the cop and with disorderly conduct.
The old expression, “Boys will be boys,” would ordinarily suffice to explain why three youngsters, such as the ones in question in this case, might wander into their school at night and engage in simple mischief. There’s no excuse for their wrongful behavior. However, there was no robbery, no serious vandalism or destruction involved. They were simply engaged in delinquent activity. Nevertheless, their parents should have known where each of them was at 8:30pm on a Saturday night, particularly in the city of Mount Vernon, that has seen so much gang
and youthful violence in recent years.
Having said that, there’s simply no excuse for the police brutality quite literally unleased upon three young boys; no excuse for the racial remarks, the meting out of extreme physical punishment, or the harassment of family members that followed. That was police misconduct of the worst kind, and will very likely be met with both a state and federal court response.
The fact that the three boys were Black, and all of the responding police officers were White, including the Yonkers cops, and that there was
the use of racial slurs accompanying a definite over-reaction and abusive force would seem to call for a thorough investigation by the FBI,
particularly in light of involvement by the Yonkers Police, a department already under federal investigation for police brutality for more than two years.
The officers involved, especially those who punched and beat these youths, need to be tested for anabolic steroids, and, at the very least, must be given comprehensive sensitivity and youth training if they are deemed worthy of retaining. Any notion of an internal investigation is unrealistic and unacceptable, as is involvement by the Westchester District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau under ADA Mike Hughes.
That office has shown us, in case after case, that it is incapable of conducting an unbiased investigation and arriving at a truthful conclusion when police brutality is involved, as demonstrated in the Irma Marquez and Rui Florem and Bostwick cases, to name but a few.
Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Chong’s public response to the release of Sgt. Marcucilli’s name and the names of other police officers
involved, his expressions of displeasure, certainly do not auger well for a just and comprehensive handling and resolution of this shocking incident. What we are witnessing, with increased frequency in several Westchester communities, is the phenomenon of out-of-control, over-reactive, brutal police officers taking the law into their own hands without fear of prosecution by the Westchester District Attorney, Janet DiFiore. Sadly, she has demonstrated, in case after case, particularly in cases out of Yonkers and Mount Vernon; her incredible unwillingness to protect innocent civilians from the unlawful actions of rogue cops. By her failure to discharge her sworn duty, she encourages police brutality.