Jose Lugo Not Guilty of Assaulting Rochester, NY Police Officer. Juror: “The Police officers Were Overzealous.”

Published On October 3, 2012 | By Davy V. | Articles

By Davy V.

A Monroe County, NY jury has found a Rochester, NY man not guilty of assaulting a Rochester Police officer.

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 Rochester, NY Police officers, Kevin Flanagan, Joel Hasper and Richard Doran raced up the wrong way of a residential one-way street, pulled up, grabbed him, and brought him over to an RPD cruiser.

When Lugo questioned why he was being stopped, the officers immediately threw him to the ground, where they punched, kicked, and tasered him at least three times, including two “drive stuns” which is when a taser is applied directly to the skin.

When neighbors on Flower St., including Lugo’s aunt, Annette Velazquez, a Rochester City School district employee, who was visting her elderly parents, pleaded with officers to stop beating Lugo, RPD officers turned on them.

RPD officer Benjamin Mitchell shoved Annette Velazquez several times as he yelled to her, “Get in the house!”

When Annette Velazquez told Mitchell that she was going to call Rochester, NY Police Chief James Sheppard, whom she knew personally from having worked with him when Sheppard was the director of security for the Rochester City School district, officer Mitchell confiscated her phone, pepper-sprayed her and placed her under arrest.

Velazquez wasn’t the only one pepper-sprayed or arrested.

In fact, a pregnant woman and an elderly woman were also pepper-sprayed.

Officers also took the pregnant woman’s phone and arrested her as well.

In an attempt to cover up their unlawful actions, including not only beating Lugo, but pepper pepper-spraying and arresting innocent people, RPD officers charged Lugo with assaulting officer Richard Doran.

Well, the jury of six men and six women did not buy the RPD officers’ story, and announced their not guilty verdict Wednesday morning.

After the verdict, I had a chance to speak with juror # 3, a middle aged saleswoman, who asked that I not use use her name, and who had some very interesting things to share with me regarding what the jurors thought of the trial.

“The police officers were overzealous, it’s like each officer was like a billboard, saying just because we are police officers we can do what we want,” said the juror.

Particularly troubling for the jurors, said juror # 3, was how Rochester Police officers shoved Annette Velazquez, pepper-sprayed and arrested not only her, but other witnesses, including a pregnant woman.

“They feel they have the advantage and since they are equipped, they think, the law is going to side with me.” said juror # 3.

According to the juror, something which they also found disturbing was Monroe County district attorney Michael Harrigan’s cross examination of defense witness Ana Davila, an elderly woman who witnessed RPD officers Kevin Flanagan, Joel Hasper and Richard Doran stop Lugo and beat him, as she stood in the front of her house.

Harrigan drilled Davila on the stand, asking her why did she like to go outside and did she normally go in her front yard, as if there was something wrong with that.

During the week and a half trial, Lugo’s attorney, Monroe County Public Defender Sonya Zoghlin, assisted by law graduate Stephanie Poray, put on a strong case for the defense, including pointing out inconsistencies in the officer’s testimonies, and most importantly, the fact that the entire case was based on the unlawful actions of RPD officers Flanagan, Hasper and Doran.

On April 2, 2012, Jose Lugo did nothing wrong.

He was walking down the street, as any citizen has a right to do.

The officers said they stopped him because they said Lugo may have been trespassing by standing near a boarded-up, abandoned house.

Under New York State law, trespassing is a violation, not a crime.

Furthermore, as in this case, police must first know who owns a property to be sure if in fact an individual is trespassing.

In a successful attempt to show the jury that the entire case was based on an unlawful stop and forcible seizure of Jose Lugo’s person, Zoghlin got each officer to admit, on the stand, that they did not know who the owner of the boarded-up property was, proving that the officers could therefore, not have known if Lugo, or anyone else for that matter, was trespassing.

Therefore, the officers’ actions of stopping Lugo and grabbing him, were unlawful.

Lugo was charged with assaulting RPD officer Richard Doran by punching him in the face.

Something the jury did not believe.

In fact, it was the other way around, with Lugo being the victim of police brutality.

Throughout Jose Lugo’s trial, it became clear that certain Rochester police officers, such as Kevin Flanagan, Joel Hasper and Richard Doran, look at the residents of the communities they patrol as the ‘enemy’, and the neighborhoods they work in, as a ‘war zone.’

Whether indoctrinated in their academy training, or adopted once they hit the streets, more and more Rochester, NY Police officers are behaving like ‘soldiers’ instead of law enforcement officers.

On the stand, each officer’s face lit up when describing their “fighting” and “combat training” they each took at the police academy, along with the many “holds” and “moves” such as “three point landings” and “knee strikes” they use on people.

At one point, all three officers admitted to doing several “knee strikes” on an already handcuffed, already on the ground, Jose Lugo.

When asked by the defense what a “knee strike” was, officer Flanagan said “It’s when you drive your knee into a person’s torso, hard, just like kicking a soccer ball.”

At another point, Lugo’s attorney, Ms. Sonya Zoghlin asked officer Hasper “Officer, you punched Jose Lugo in his face correct?”

Hasper replied, “I performed a distractionary jab.”

To which Zoghlin again asked, “You punched Jose Lugo in his face correct?”

And again Hasper replied, “I performed a distractionary jab.”

RPD officer Joel Hasper refused to admit that what he calls a “distractionary jab”, is a punch to the face of an innocent young man.

As you can see in the photo above, Jose Lugo suffered badly swollen-shut left eye, as well as multiple bruises and contusions, including prong marks from the taser.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing issues here is the Rochester, NY Police department’s well known pattern of creating and escalating unnecessary situations.

In fact, not just in Rochester, NY, but throughout the country, the whole ‘to serve and protect’ slogan is being questioned by citizens who call police for assistance.

People have realized that many times, calling the police for assistance, is actually calling in another problem.

The result is an affirmation, especially in Latino and African-American communities, that the police are not there to serve and protect them, but to do disservice them and abuse them.

Perhaps Monroe County public defender Sonya Zoghlin said it best, “A citizen has the right to walk down his or her block without being accosted by the police.”

I asked Ms. Zoghlin if she had any advice for someone, who as Jose Lugo was, may be approached, and grabbed by a police officer.

“Don’t resist. Remember the officer’s name. File a complaint,” said Zoghlin.

Then, Ms. Zoghlin, added something I feel is so true.

“Public Defenders are awesome. We get a bad rap in the community. People should know that we are experienced, dedicated and skilled at our job,” she said.

I couldn’t agree more.

 

Link to my original story on this case

http://www.copblock.org/21477/rochester-ny-police-officers-assault-man-pepper-spray-pregnant-mother-and-elderly-woman-confiscate-witnessess-cell-phones-then-charge-man-with-assaulting-officer-in-attempt-to-justifly-their-acti/

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About The Author

Davy V. is a Cuban-American Filmmaker, Video Producer, Photographer and Freelance Writer, best known for using the power of video and film to expose Police Brutality, Corruption and Misconduct. The son of the late Mario Vara, a community activist who for years fought against Police Brutality and Misconduct in Rochester, New York, Davy V. got his start in Television and Video by tagging along and working camera for his father's cable access television show, "La Voz Del Pueblo" (The Voice of The People). Davy V. later went on to produce and host "KEEP IT ON THE REEL", a cable access TV show with a mix of Hip Hop as well as issues affecting African-Americans and Latinos in Rochester, NY, such as Police Brutality and Misconduct. Some guests on the show included Treach, KayGee and Vinnie of Naughty by Nature, Method Man, Funkdoobiest, Da Youngstas, and the Rottin' Razkals. Davy V. won the U.S. ACM Video Festival Award for his Documentary, "R.P.D. EXPOSED!" about the Rochester, New York Police Department and their long history of misconduct, corruption and unnecessary killings of unarmed innocent citizens. "R.P.D. EXPOSED!" and Davy V.'s follow up, "R.P.D.: Badges of DISHONOR, CORRUPTION and MURDER!" were both screened at the National Hip Hop Political Convention at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Davy V.'s work has been featured in publications such as THE SOURCE Hip Hop Magazine, URBAN AMERICA Magazine, The Ave. Magazine, Insider Magazine, La Voz Newspaper, Minority Reporter Newspaper, CNY LATINO Newspaper, DOWN Magazine, as well as on television news stations, and programs such as CNN and Inside Edition. In addition to his freelance writing, Davy V. also writes a monthly Op/Ed Column for LA VOZ Magazine and Minority Reporter Newspaper. In June 2012, Davy V. joined Cop Block as a regular contributor.
  • Logan

    Common Sense you said what about this? how your foot taste?

  • shawn

    “RPD officer Joel Hasper refused to admit that what he calls a “distractionary jab”, is a punch to the face of an innocent young man.”

    Cops love to give fancy names to activities in order to make it sound better.
    Like dynamic entries. What is that? That simply means you use excessive force to destroy property, terrify children, expose women to unwanted male eyes, beat people up, and then find out that the person you are looking for moved out 9 months ago, you have the wrong address, or the ‘reliable informant drug dealer’ lied or was wrong.

    Opps. Sorry citizen, wrong house. You should fix your door, get that broken arm looked at, and take your kids to therapy for their nightmares.
    By the way, we’re hear to serve and protect you. And if you dare to protest how, you must be a drug dealing/using, criminal thug, who is also a liberal. How dare anyone think we should answer to the public.

  • Hey

    The whole Rochester community should sue Rochester and DA if these goons “Kevin Flanagan, Joel Hasper and Richard Doran” are allowed to stalk the citizens.

    These goons should be charged with assault and kidnapping.

  • Common Sense

    …and a jury decided OJ wasn’t guilty either.

  • t.

    Again, knowing nothing of this case except biased “reporting” on this site…”not guilty” beyond a reasonable doubt is a far different standard then “probable cause” for an arrest is. One is an 8 on a s ale of 1-10 and the other is about 2-2.5. Most arrests are truly made at the 8-10 level. Some aren’t. And the “protect and serve” thing is way misunderstood and misused when something happens and you don’t like it. Stopping and maybe subsequently arresting people how loiter at known drug locations in a neighborhood plagued by by such problems…is serving and protecting that community. Not everyone welcomes drug use.

  • Otto Maddox

    “Distractionary jab”.. oh that’s good.. I guess he was trying distract the guy from asking why he was being stopped.

    As far as the whole “protect and serve” thing. I think the police should stop using those words either together or apart. It just doesn’t accurately describe what they do.

  • DKSuddeth

    don’t resist……even when they’re raping you. just submit and comply, file a complaint afterwards. Anyone now doubt that the police are the standing army our founding fathers warned us about?

  • Yankee Fan

    T,

    If you remove the emotional parts of this story, what do you have? An acquittal as reported and a jurur being interviewed who didn’t buy the police story. Remember one of these cops stated even a foot on the grass of anothers property is trespassing as was reported in the other story. I do not know NY state law on this but there is a difference between a civil violation and a misdemeanor crime. We do not have external links and all we have to go on is this reporting. Remove the emotions from the story and what do you have? To me it is a group of police officers who appear to tackle their job in a very aggressive manner and that has the ability to leave innocents in their wake. The reporting is that he was acquitted and 1 juror atleast didn’t believe the police version of events and it may be possible most if not all felt the same way, T.

    Yes, Common O.J. was acquitted as well and this guy may be the biggest dirtbag ever but it goes to show you that if you clean your own house and don’t tell lies in court, exhibit incompetence and give the jury the impression that the police are a bunch of racists, lying thugs with an ends justifies the means type of police work, the bad guys will go to jail most of the time!

  • t.

    @Y.F.: If you look back the jury didn’t say she didn’t believe the police story. She said she thought they were “overzealous”. Big difference. But you are right…remove the emotions and what do you have? 3 officers who patrol a rough area of a rough city. Officer who are sea.ours in wanting to rid that area of problems. The good old broken window theory at work. Sometimes, in some areas, it is zero tolerance. If the citizens of Rochester don’t like the way the police do their jobs, note out the city council. A new council can hire a new chief. His / her philosophy has a direct relationship to how the officer do their jobs on the street. But again, keep in mind that folks get found not guilty of things all the time. Its not neccesarily a statement that the police are wrong. PC and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt are very different standards. Very different.

  • Common Sense

    I wonder if Rochester would accept a study.

    Have the police leave for 1 month. Just walk away. Make sure its front page news, on the internet and cable, that all of Rochester is on a 30 day furlow, including the courts, jail, and maybe even go a step further and say all public employees, water works, buses, sewer and trash service, all teachers included…

  • Maria

    these new programs started by others, instituted by Bush and expanded by Obama are all products of the patriot act…abolish this law and bring peace and honor back to our broken society…
    never should police and military be mixed as if this is good for we the people…
    police, military, politicans, all of congress should be held accountable for their criminal misdeeds.

  • shawn

    @Common

    So your view is that cops must be alloed to do as they please, to whom they please or should just stop. Richester has a horrible reputation, but let’s not do anything about that.

    I take it you pronounce your ‘w’s as ‘V’s, Comrad?

  • Yankee Fan

    T,

    I will split the difference because in the other stories the words that were used were, if i recall….didn’t buy what the officers were selling on the stand. That can mean many things. My dad has done jury dute several times and that has been his take when the acquitted someone. They didn’t accept the police version of events. As far as zero tolerance, i am ok when it comes to that but do it the right way and not grab anyone in your path and that ends justifies the means, zero tolerance type of work has the tendance to do that. I don’t know how accurate it was when the other story stated the officer believes that even 1 foor on anothers property is trespassing but if he said that and believes that, to me thats no different than a bully attitude…”You looked at me wimp, now you are going to pay”. I am not saying he is a bully cop but it is the exact same mentality.

    As far as not guilty=police wrong, I dont believe that either. Each case is different. I only stated that not all arrests are good and valid. Take a look at peeps being arrested for filming in public like Simon Glik as an example or the Ibarra Bros. All not valid and the police were wrong. The police in those cases and many more I can name didn’t have prima facia evidence that a crime was committed and I do know the difference between RS, PC and beyond a reasonable doubt which that last of the 3 is what juries use to convict in court.

    Lastly, you left out police training to go along with the chief thing. You police talk about being more well versed in the law than the avg citizen. You are the sworn types honor your oath. If you do that you will get the undying support of the community. It’s just not….hire a new chief and yada yada. Do your job the way you swore you would is part of it as well, T.

  • T

    YF: not trying to say you don’t understand the difference between RS, PC and BRD. Most on here simple don’t get it…don’t even come close to getting it. As for the officers “means” or tactics, that’s debate able. You can check my posts, I consistently call for calm and not violence. Street justice isn’t what it’s about. From either side. The police can use whatever force is reasonably necessary to overcome resistance. Depending on where you are u can resist an unlawful arrest. But there is the problem. Just because you think you didn’t do anything wrong doesn’t mean the police don’t have information that you did something wrong. Does that give the right for the police to just kick your butt? No. Does that give you the right to kick theirs? No. D

  • T

    YF: not trying to say you don’t understand the difference between RS, PC and BRD. Most on here simple don’t get it…don’t even come close to getting it. As for the officers “means” or tactics, that’s debate able. You can check my posts, I consistently call for calm and not violence. Street justice isn’t what it’s about. From either side. The police can use whatever force is reasonably necessary to overcome resistance. Depending on where you are u can resist an unlawful arrest. But there is the problem. Just because you think you didn’t do anything wrong doesn’t mean the police don’t have information that you did something wrong. Does that give the right for the police to just kick your butt? No. Does that give you the right to kick theirs? No. Does that give bystanders the right to interfer? Heck no.

    As for training and the chief. From what it sounds like, the force applied in this instances looks relatively ok. The question here, and in most all cases is why was the force applied. And that tone, that style and approach to situations, is set out by the. Brief and frequently by his bosses on the city council. Not trying to sound demeaning, but there is WAY, WAY more too it

    And you way miss with the oath thing. To swear to the constitution means all of it. Your rights don’t necessarily out weigh someone else (or vice versa). Property owners have rights. Those that live in that neighborhood have rights. Lugo has rights. That where it gets tough…who is most important. Your right to do something or someone’s else’s right to not have it done to them? It’s not black and white t.v. land stuff.

    As for community support. Don’t believe what you read on cop hater sites. Most department enjoy an have earned overwhelming community support. Big time.

  • Yankee Fan

    I understand the oath perfectly, T. I took one when I served and yes it means it all. I think you misunderstand me as I am not hating on these cops. There are unanswered questions as we need more story. You make an assumption that these cops acted perfectly and they may not have. We do not know and I do not assume anything. I want more information. I have always said in my own life…do not exercise your rights to violate others or you are a hypocrite but the issue here is law enforcement and did they act and behave in accordance with the law and do it right or did they act like bullies and target someone for an assumed trespass.

    As far as the chief…i understand that atitude reflect leadership but lets not act like every cop is clueless on how to act and behave. you know your role. Follow the law and the constitution and then learn the leaderships little quirks and then you know what to do. I served in leadership roles, T, so I understand there is way more.

    As for the community support, you should know what I have said in the past. The community will support it’s force as long as the police are viewed as LEO’s and not an organized gang. I do support mine as I have never seen anything that looks remotely like police misconduct

  • 2minutes

    @t

    “From what it sounds like, the force applied in this instances looks relatively ok.”

    Really? So, the police can assault an individual on such spurious claims as ‘he may have been trespassing” – without understanding what that even entails – and cause injuries such as the one seen in the photo above, and you find that o.k.? Even when the victim is found to be innocent? I guess your take is that its just a little beating, who would mind? Ah, yes, I remember who: a cop would. After all, if this were done to a cop, it would be all the justification he needed to start shooting, citing a fear for his life. This injury, which is apparently a minor injury for the average citizen, is also the kind of injury that would make an officer fear for his safety. How is that possible? Are the general public that much tougher than the police? Are the police that much more afraid? or is there, yet again, a double standard whereby if the police cause an injury of this magnitude to a ‘suspect’, justified or not, its o.k.; but if that same officer receives such an injury, its a matter of life and death?

  • t.

    YF: Fair enough. I certainly agree that we don’t have enough information, my main concern with this type of extremely based “reporting”, the truth gets lost. And I don’t know if the officer acted properly or not, again, extremely biased “reporting”.

  • fuck the police

    I can’t wait till common runs that big mouth to the wrong person and they shoot him in it. Hopefully it happens sooner than later. Can’t wait to read that obituary. I hope you die slow and painfully you worthless cocksucker

  • Tcxs Oam

    @fuck the police:

    LOL If we become members of the police department…would we feel more secure about this? Two days ago there was a story about a cop killing another off duty cop and the day before that a cop killed a U.S. marine. Just be sure to wear those blue uniforms and you’re safe enough to feel comfortable again from the other cops. There are a series of these continual cycles of abuses being directed to a citizen’s civil liberties and for the ones who don’t understand this are the misinformed who lack sources and common entry-level intelligence or the cops themselves who obviously condone the behavior by defending the guilty. Why? Because they have to live with the fact everyday…maybe they don’t like the discrimination they receive because of the actions from their colleagues throughout the country…but I suspect it’s less thoughtful than this. They need laws, uniforms, and numbers to exert the abuse needed to incorrectly persuade the public and appease their amusements. A reform is needed before the entire support of the population ceases to exist. Something major and unrelated might happen to the world which might even prevent the need of action against these cowards looking for cheap and individual momentary power. Orders given can always be traced back to the implementer.

  • http://suijurisforum.com indio007

    @Common Sense
    OJ Simpson wasn’t guilty . Only idiots that didn’t watch the trial think he is guilty.

    Do you even know why they acquitted him Common ?

    As far as it goes with the police leaving, they have no duty to protect anyone. So it wouldn’t make a difference. Why don’t you poll your neighbors and ask them how many times a police man “saved” them from an unlawful act actively committed against them.

  • Carlos

    @ Dave [a.k.a. "Common Sense"] :

    Did you read this ? [copy/paste below]:

    ———

    fuck the police says:
    October 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    I can’t wait till common runs that big mouth to the wrong person and they shoot him in it. Hopefully it happens sooner than later. Can’t wait to read that obituary. I hope you die slow and painfully you worthless cocksucker.

    ——————

    If I was you, I would start to worry because, when many people want or wish you DEAD especially with the poor mental health and lots of guns in America [Colorado, Aurora mass shooter, anyone?]; I wouldn’t doubt it if somebody might be already on your tracks trying to locate you with not very good intentions towards you.

    I’ve been telling you to stop provoking these people but you keep on doing it and turn a blind eye to comments exhorting you to stop trolling.

    Do not say no one didn’t warn you ahead of time.

    ———————————————-

    Carlos

  • Tcxs Oam

    @Carlos:

    He never threatened him but only wished and hoped for a death. He is innocent bonehead, lol. Cops aren’t my bosses and I’m not intimated by the profession. If I’m abused as an innocent then of course there will be hell to pay.

  • Pingback: Militant Libertarian » Jose Lugo Not Guilty of Assaulting Rochester, NY Police Officer. Juror: “The Police officers Were Overzealous.”

  • Joe Jackson

    hELL HAS FROZEN OVER!!!! THE POLICE DID NOT PLANT JURORS AND CLEAR THE CORRUPT POLICE OFFICERS ….

  • Danny Stevens

    I don’t envy a Policeman’s job, but if a civilian had done this then they would have been charged with Assault. Why is it okay for the members to get off why were they not charged for civil liberties acts against the man assaulted?

  • mddcc

    I should have sued the RPD years ago. I could have but didn’t because of my attorney who urged against it-but little did I know at the time that he was friends with all of the politicians of Rochester NY and therefor talked me into dropping the case. I was young, naive and just thought, fuck the world and went on with my life.

    The RPD, 3 of it’s members (at least 3 of them) beat the shit out of me for no reason whatsoever. I did not resist and complied 101% and these blood thirsty cops still proceeded as if I was not complying. Had it not been for 2 Afro American Officers who stepped in, I might of been murdered that night. It was a long time ago but it still bothers me and I believe I have memory problems because of it.

    Cops should be fired on the spot and jailed when they abuse their position. IT’s a scary deal to have a cop with this trusted power upon him and that officer takes it as a right to do what he wants and hurt people. I’m a white male and have experienced enough that what blacks call racism in the police department isn’t true. These cops do not discriminate who their victims are for as long as they’re able to get out their aggression on people.