Westchester district attorney calls investigation on Mt. Vernon Police
The Mount Vernon Police Department has been embroiled in controversy in recent years. Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Mount Vernon Police Department for what she called "disturbing allegations of patterns of inappropriate and potentially unlawful conduct.” Rocah said in a statement that federal investigators should look into "pervasive and persistent alleged civil rights violations including unlawful strip searches, excessive use of force, and other misconduct” and Rocah's office is still investigating members of the disbanded narcotics unit over allegations of misconduct.
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Rocah said patterns of inappropriate or possibly illegal conduct by the police were discovered during her office's ongoing investigation of the department's officers.
Mimi Rocah, who is running for Westchester District Attorney, called on state Attorney General Letitia James to take over the investigation of Mount Vernon police misconduct and how the DA's office handled it so far, outside Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains June 3, 2020.
“We have provided information that we gathered in this respect to DOJ," she said and further added that “While our criminal investigations of individual officers continue, we are requesting that DOJ scrutinize the MVPD’s operations, training and policies to determine whether the MVPD is systematically violating peoples’ civil rights and, if so, to take action to address these matters."
Allison Biasotti, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen.Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement that he "strongly supports the City of Mount Vernon and the Westchester County District Attorney’s calls for a federal investigation and hopes that the Department of Justice does a thorough, top-to-bottom report to enact productive and meaningful change within the Mount Vernon Police Department.”
The Department of Justice had no comment on the situation.
Our Westchester police misconduct attorneys have been fighting one of the first unlawful strip and search cases against Mount Vernon. In our case, the Mount Vernon police approached our client, who was standing on the public sidewalk minding his own business. Two Mount Vernon detectives approached our client, an African Amercian male and threw him against an unmarked police car and patted him down. Despite finding absolutely nothing, the detectives handcuffed our client, brought him to the police station and strip searched him, again finding nothing. Our White Plains false arrest attorneys sued the CIty of Mount Vernon and the two police officers. While they initially convinced the Court to dismiss the case, and claimed that a confidential informant told them that our client had crack and heroin in his underwear, our false arrest attorneys continued to fight the fight and pursued an appeal to the Second Department Appellate Court in Brooklyn, New York. In an unaminous decision the Second Department reversed the dismissal and reinstated the complaint. In reversing the Westchester Supreme Court, the Appellate Court found that the City of Mount Vernon never established that they had probable cause in the first place to stop, search and then strip search our client; consequently the Westchester Supreme Court erred in dismissing the case. Our case is now on the trial calendar and it has come to light that these same detectives were involved in other similar instances of searching minorities and then bringing them back to the station and strip searching them. Our Westchester false arrest lawyers know, the police are constitutionally allowed to strip search people, even for a misdemeanor arrest and they need reasonable cause to believe that an arrestee is hiding contraband. There is no justification at all for a strip search, where there is not even probable cause to support an arrest. It is reprehensible and a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment protections for these officers to arrest and strip search people who have not committed any crime and are merely standing on the public sidewalk. Our civil rights lawyers in Westchester, will continue to fight for the rights of people victimized by the police and sue officers who falsely arrest people and conduct baseless strip searches of innocent people.