Officer in brutality case suspended without pay; citizens rally against violence

Apr 29, 2014

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the police officers involved in a video-recorded beating of a suspect on April 19th has been suspended without pay. The Buffalo News has identified the suspended officer as John Cirulli.

Derenda says the other five remain on administrative leave pending the investigation into what exactly happened.

The video shows 22-year-old John Willet face down on the ground in handcuffs with one officer slapping and kicking him. 

Derenda has not identified the officers involved. 

But one of them, officer Dennis Gilbert, is varsity football coach at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute.  St. Joe's President Robert Scott released a statement Tuesday saying the school is monitoring the situation and will defer any action until the investigation is compete. 

The Buffalo News identifies the other officers as Nicholas Militello, Brian Griffin, Lamar McCully and Lindsay Laracuente-Zgoda. 

Meanwhile, a dozen people rallied against police violence in front of Buffalo Police headquarters downtown Buffalo Tuesday. 

A dozen people rallied against alleged police brutality.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Ellie Dorritie is with the Buffalo International Action Center. She says the alleged behavior is not new and is not unusual.

“We want to make sure that this does not get swept under the rug. People in Buffalo are not going to stand for police officers behaving that way. We’re here to make sure that they know we’re watching and we won’t be quiet,” said Dorritie.

Tyler Hageman says more must be done to hold cops accountable on a daily basis.

“I feel as if there’s no one there to govern the police department, that there’s no one there to stop a police officer when he is enraged at someone who is handcuffed. Even just walking down the street there is no one there to govern the police. The police are supposed to be public servants,” said Hageman.

People protested against alleged police brutality in front of Buffalo Police headquarters in downtown Buffalo.
Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News

Joel Hanzly says police officers are doing a lot of things that they should not be doing.

“We need to stop letting them abuse their power. I see them texting on their phones, everything, things we are not supposed to be doing they’re doing. Speeding down the streets, that’s just abusing power, you can’t do that. They’re supposed to be protecting us,” said Hanzly.

The Buffalo Police Internal Affairs Division is investigating the incident. The FBI, the Erie County District Attorney and U.S. Attorney’s Office are also looking into the matter.

Tyler Hageman says he hopes the officers involved in the alleged incident are also held accountable.