Police commissioner responds to video of alleged brutality

Apr 28, 2014

The Buffalo Police Internal Affairs Division is investigating a possible case of police brutality following the emergence of an online video over the weekend.

The homemade video shows a handcuffed male suspect who is being kicked and slapped while face down on the ground by Buffalo Police officers.

Warning: the following video contains some coarse language.

The video was first posted on a Facebook page belonging to a group that encourages people to videotape their encounters with local police called Cop Block of WNY.

Derenda, addressing the media in a news conference late Monday morning, says the investigation is moving quickly. He says he received the copy of the video late in the day on Friday and immediately began his investigation.

The commissioner said Monday the department believes the incident took place on April 19 at approximately 10:30 p.m.  at Ontario and Philadelphia streets.

Late Monday afternoon, Derenda announced that six police officers have been placed on administrative leave.  He did not identify the officers.

In the video, the man can clearly be heard telling the officers "please stop" and "let me go."  Dereneda say the suspect was arrested after a vehicle in traffic stop.

"The Buffalo Police Department does not condone or tolerate inappropriate behavior and we will take whatever actions are necessary," said Derenda.

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda addressed the videotaped incident Monday morning.
Credit Eileen Buckley/WBFO News

"Obviously it is a very serious matter," he added.

Derenda says the investigation will include police surveillance videos from city cameras located in the neighborhood. 

Derenda says he has been in contact with the Erie County District Attorney, the U.S. Attorney and the FBI. He would not say what consequences the officers involved could face if the incident is deemed to be a case of brutality.

Mayor Byron Brown held a news conference late Monday afternoon, confirming he viewed the video.  He said he was disturbed by the images.

"One of the things I have tasked Commissioner Derenda and his management team with doing is being very aggressive about any form of police misconduct," Brown said.  "We have bolstered and strengthened the Division of Internal Affairs.  Any matter of police misconduct is followed up on very aggressively. "

The man who was allegedly assaulted by the officers was identified Monday as John Willet, 22, of Williamsville.  He was charged by police with drug possession and resisting arrest.

But in an interview with WIVB-TV Monday, Willet denied resisting, saying he surrendered and threw up his hands.  Willet did admit running from officers when his car was initially pulled over because of the drugs in his possession.  But he said once he gave up, he offered no resistance.  And that's when, he claims, he was first hit. 

The official police report says Willet fought and struggled with officers and had to be subdued with force.