A video showing the 2016 beating of a man in the Buffalo Police lockup has gone public.
The footage shows cell block attendant Matthew Jaskula throwing suspect Shaun Porter to the floor, opening a bloody wound and then dragging him to a room. Two Buffalo police officers are seen standing by and watching.
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS DEPICTIONS OF VIOLENCE AND OTHER GRAPHIC CONTENT
Earlier this week, the City of Buffalo settled with Porter for $300,000. Niagara District Councilmember David Rivera, a former Buffalo Police officer, said there is no justification for using the force shown in the video.
"I think we just have to go back and we have to make sure that this isn't repeated again," said Rivera. "The fact that this cell block attendant and these police officers were punished will send a signal to other police officers and other cell block attendants that you can't do that. You just cannot use excessive force on prisoners or anyone, for that matter."
Renowned personal injury attorney John Elmore points out that Jaskula was not a police officer. Even so, Elmore said cell bock attendants need to be properly trained to avoid behaving as Jaskula did.
"Still, there has to be a process of selecting, weeding out those bad people at the academy," said Elmore. "There has to be adequate supervision to make sure that never happens again, because what was shown on that tape was disgusting and should never be. Our taxpayers deserve better."
Elmore said he is disappointed it took the city this long to reach a settlement. He agreed the video shows blatant excessive use of force that caused injury.
"The fact that they did nothing, I think, is a sign that there is a culture in the cell block which allowed that to happened and that culture needs to be changed," Elmore said, "and certainly, culture changes begin with the administration at the top."
Rivera, meanwhile, suggested that while $300,000 is a lot of taxpayer money, Porter could have sued the city for many millions more.
"Going forward, we want to limit the city's liability, period. We want to make sure that incidents like this do not reoccur," Rivera said, "and videos like this should be part of the training, so police officers can see that, even if you're there, you have to do something. You just can't allow anything like this from occuring in your presence."
Civil Rights Attorney Matt Albert said he isn't surprised by the video and that police violence and brutality has become normalized.
"It's just the rare occasion when it's actually caught on film and when that film is, after years and years of struggle, ordered to be released that it comes to the forefront of our attention," Albert said. "When I see that video, it just screams for the absolute need to install body cams on every officer in their line of work."
Albert said the community that deals the most with police officers alredy has a complete distrust with them.
"This is not to paint all officers with the same brush," he said, "but there is a culture of brutality and cover up within the Buffalo Police Department. When something is exposed to the massers, such as the way the Porter video was, then ultimately those people who don't have regular run-ins with the police get a glimpse as to what it's really about out there, what really happened."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, joined by Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood and Deputy Commissioner Barbara Lark, apologized to Porter for the 2016 incident.
"It is an event that we are certainly are truly sorry for and, in particular to the young man that suffered this event," Brown said. "We apologize to him, his family and his friends."
Lockwood defended his department, meanwhile, saying those who commit acts such as what happened in 2016 are a small minority. He also spoke of efforts to improve workmanship as well as community trust.
"I think the majority of police officers, 99 percent of them, go out and do their job every day," he said. "I think the direction we're going right now, as far as community policing, I think it's working in some ways."