A local activist group plans to file a formal complaint against Kingston police officers who, they charge, used a Taser on a man 21 times during a 2015 scuffle on Broadway that was caught on a police dashboard camera and the man’s cell phone.
Local Citizen Action of New York organizer Callie Jayne said this week that the effort was part of a broader push by the activist group to target police brutality and effect changes in the KPD’s use-of-force policies.
“We have rights,” said Jayne of the September 2015 confrontation between 27-year-old Fabian Marshall and city cops. “This was just bullying, he was essentially jumped and kidnapped.”
Marshall’s run-in with the KPD occurred near Broadway and Maiden Lane as police were investigating an assault that had just been reported a few blocks away. According to Ulster County Senior Assistant District Attorney Mike Kavanagh, Marshall was approached by KPD officer Jeremy Arciello because his clothing and physical description matched that of the suspect in the assault. What happened next is recorded in a four-minute video released by Citizen Action that edits together audio and video from Arciello’s dashboard camera and Marshall’s cell phone.
Arciello asks Marshall to step out of the street and onto the sidewalk. Marshall, who has his phone in hand and begins recording the interaction, replies by asking the officer why several times. The officer replies that Marshall was involved in “an incident,” then begins pushing Marshall in the direction of the sidewalk. The two go back and forth with Marshall insisting that he’s simply waiting for a ride to work and Arciello demanding that he step back onto the sidewalk.
Once on the sidewalk, the edited version of the video provided by Citizen Action switches to the cell phone footage. The officer is heard asking Marshall why he keeps walking away from him, then he says, “You know what, I’m putting you in handcuffs.”
The officer then wrestles Marshall to the ground, at which point the video from the phone goes dark, but the audio recording continues. He calls for backup. The video briefly reverts to the dash cam footage to show a second unidentified officer in KPD uniform running up the street before going back to the audio recording from Marshall’s phone. The officers then order Marshall to roll over and put his hands behind his back or he’ll be tased. A female witness, who identifies her herself as Marshall’s aunt, is heard off-screen begging the officers to stop. Officers order her to back up, the tasing begins, Marshall yells and the officers repeatedly tell him to stop fighting as one of them continues to send electric shocks into his body with the Taser. At one point a distraught-sounding Marshall begs officers to “please handcuff me.”
Later, another member of the police department picks up the phone and we see Marshall on the ground. He says, “We can lock up whoever we want.” Another says, “Take care of the phone, quick.” An officer picks up the phone, but does not stop the recording which continues for a short time until the clip provided by Citizen Action ends.
DA: Marshall’s response not normal
Ulster County District Attorney Holley Carnright said Tuesday it was clear to him that Arciello had ample reason to stop and question Marshall in the course of the assault investigation. Carnright also questioned why Marshall did not comply with Arciello’s request to stop and talk.
“It’s so easy to just stop and say [to the officer], ‘What’s up,’ said Carnright. “Any innocent person, any normal person would respond to that situation in a different fashion.”
Jayne said that she learned of the 2015 incident about a month ago after Marshall’s family contacted her. At the time, Marshall was heading for his second trial in Kingston City Court on misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration stemming from the incident. An earlier trial ended in a mistrial because, according to Kavanagh, Marshall’s attorney introduced video evidence from his client’s cell phone after prosecutors had finished their case. No one was ever charged in the assault that led to Marshall’s questioning.
On Nov. 6, a Kingston City Court jury acquitted Marshall of resisting arrest but convicted him of obstructing governmental administration. The charge is a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail. Kavanagh said that prosecutors in the case had offered Marshall a plea deal for disorderly conduct, a violation, but he had turned it down.
“I think he saw dollar signs,” said Kavanagh. “I think he thought he was going to file some kind of civil suit.”
Meanwhile, Jayne said, she is preparing to file an official complaint with the KPD on Marshall’s behalf, alleging that officers used excessive force in the incident. Jayne said Marshall and his family had not filed a formal complaint previously because they feared retaliation from the KPD. Jayne said that she planned to file the complaint sometime in the next few days. Complaints of officer misconduct are investigated by KPD Deputy Chief John Wallace. Wallace’s findings are then presented to the city’s five-member Police Commission, which will determine whether the officer’s actions violated departmental policy and warrant disciplinary action.
Marshall’s is at least the third excessive force complaint brought by Citizen Action on behalf of people alleging misconduct by city cops. At a Nov. 15 meeting, the Police Commission is expected to rule on one of them, the case of Adrin Brodhead. Back on July 20, Brodhead was walking home from work with a friend carrying an open container of beer in a paper bag when he was approached by city police. According to Jayne, when Brodhead questioned why an officer wanted him to place his hands behind his back, cops threw him to ground, pepper-sprayed and used a Taser on him. Jayne said that a third complaint was lodged by Citizen Action on behalf of a Kingston man who suffered a broken nose, broken thumb and spent five days in jail after his wife called police to report that he was having a panic attack. In that case, Jayne said, the commission ruled that there had been no violation of departmental policy.
“The problem we have is that we bring these complaints and the commission says, ‘Well, there’s no violation of our policy,” said Jayne, who added she was doubtful that the officers in Brodhead’s case would face discipline. “If that’s the case, then their policies need to change.”
Warning: Video contains language and violence which may disturb some viewers.