By Davy V.
On April 2, 2012, 25 year old Jose Lugo was talking with friends near his home on Flower Street on Rochester, NY’s east side, when three Rochester, NY Police officers, driving the wrong way on the residential one-way street, pulled up, grabbed him, and brought him over to an RPD cruiser.
When Jose asked what he had done, more RPD cruisers pulled up, surrounding him.
As Lugo’s family members and neighbors questioned what was going on, several RPD officers, including officers Richard Doran and Joel Hasper, became angry and started pepper spraying innocent people, including a pregnant woman, and an elderly woman in her 60’s.
Rochester, NY Police officers then pepper sprayed Lugo, threw him face down on the ground, tasered him at least three times, and beat him.
As Jose Lugo’s aunt was on her phone calling Rochester, NY Police Chief James Sheppard, whom she used to work with when Sheppard was the Rochester City School district director of security, RPD officers pepper sprayed her, then arrested her.
At least 15 Rochester Police cars and a total of approx. 20 officers lined the street.
As winesses were recording the assault on Lugo and innocent residents, Rochester, NY Police officers Richard Doran, Joel Hasper, Kevin Flanagan, Gary Wegman, Sgt. Matthew Webster, Nick Thomas, Matthew Cushman, Thomas Lebeda, Benjamin Mitchell, and others, confiscated their cell phones.
And, in classic RPD cover up, to justify their illegal actions including pepper spraying an expectant mother and an elderly woman, Rochester Police officers charged Jose Lugo with resisting arrest and felony assault on a police officer.
Monday morning I sat in courtroom 407 of the Hall of Justice, where Monroe County Court Judge Douglass Randall oversaw jury selection for Lugo’s trial.
From the start, it was clear that Monroe County D.A. Michael Harrigan didn’t want any minorities on the jury of 12 with 2 alternates.
Lugo’s attorney, Monroe County public defender Sonya A. Zoghlin asked potential jurors questions such as would they be more inclined to believe the testimony of a police officer just because he or she is a police officer.
A few potential jurors were clearly clueless when it came to incidents of police misconduct.
When asked by Lugo’s attorney, did she remember the video of Rodney King, the white woman replied “Not really, that was so long ago.”
Another woman said that she would give the benefit of the doubt to a police officer.
Judge Randall told the jury pool, “Just because a police officer wears a badge or uniform doesn’t mean they are to be believed or disbelieved.”
At the end of the day, a jury of six men and six women, along with two alternates was seated.
I will be updating this post.