Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, left, and Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita travel the escalator to the courtroom for proceedings in Buffalo, N.Y., 2010.
Photo by Don Heupel/AP

Buffalo cops on leave after alleged brutality caught on camera


Six officers from the Buffalo Police Department have been placed on leave as officials begin investigating video of an incident that has sparked police brutality allegations.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda spoke to the press Monday about the department’s newly launched investigation into the April 19 incident involving an arrest caught on camera.

In video of the incident, posted to YouTube and Facebook, Buffalo police officers can be seen subduing a suspect who is face down on the sidewalk while the suspect yells, “Please stop.”

Later, one of the officers can be seen hitting and kicking the handcuffed suspect as he screams, “Stop kicking me.”  

Watch the video below:

At a press conference Monday, Derenda said he received a copy of the video late Friday, at which point he immediately began an internal affairs investigation. Derenda said the incident began after police stopped the suspect for a traffic violation, and that the suspect subsequently fled from police on foot. The video reveals moments that occurred after police had caught up with the suspect again. 

“We don’t condone or tolerate inappropriate behavior and as I said, necessary actions will be taken when we come to a conclusion,” Derenda told reporters, refusing to weigh in on possible consequences the officers may face as the probe is still “in its preliminary stages.”

“Obviously it’s a very serious matter and we’re taking it as such,” he said, adding that the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with local authorities, have been made aware of the incident and investigation, according to WIVB.

Asked if the incident made him “question” the officers who work in his department, Derenda defended them.

“99.9% of our police officers every day do the right thing,” he said. “They put their lives on the line for the citizens of the community. The bad actions by a few should not tarnish their badges.”

The suspect was charged with possessing drugs and resisting arrest, according to the Associated Press.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has called the video of the incident “disturbing.”

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“I have asked police commissioner Derenda and his management team to conduct a complete and swift investigation,” Brown said Monday. “We will not and do not tolerate any instances of police misconduct in my administration or in the city of Buffalo.” 

Describing the incident as an “anomaly,” Brown reiterated Derenda’s defense of the police officers, saying residents should not question whether they can trust them. 

An attorney for the man in the video has identified him as John Willet.

Willet and his lawyer spoke about the issue publicly Monday, explaining to NBC station WGRZ he decided to come forward because he wants everyone in the city to know “what’s going on.”

“Everyone is really pushing me to do this for somebody else,” Willet said. “You know what I mean? If I don’t do it, it might not get caught again, and if it [doesn’t] get caught again, it might continue to happen.”

Buffalo, Justice System, New York and Police Brutality

Buffalo cops on leave after alleged brutality caught on camera