About 25 protestors marched on City Hall last week to protest a police commission decision that cleared officers involved in a 2015 tasing incident and to demand greater transparency and accountability from city police.
On April 6, the six-member police commission voted unanimously to not impose any sanctions on officers involved in the September 2015 arrest of Fabian Marshall. Marshall, a 27-year-old black man, was tackled and struck with a taser after he turned and began walking away from KPD officer Jeremy Arciello during a field interview near the corner of Maiden Lane and Albany Avenue. At the time, Arciello was investigating a complaint of an assault and believed Marshall fit the description of the suspect.
Marshall was never charged in connection with the assault. In November 2017, Marshall was convicted following a jury trial in Kingston City Court. An earlier trial ended with a hung jury.
A cell phone video captured portions of the confrontation in which Marshall can be heard screaming and, at one point begging officers to handcuff him. In its decision, the commission ruled that there was no evidence that any departmental policies were violated during the incident.
At the April 27 protest, organized by a coalition of local activist groups, including Rise Up Kingston, marchers held up photos of Marshall’s leg bearing multiple small round marks that they said were left by a taser and belied police assertions that he was only tased twice. Standing in a steady rain on the sidewalk outside City Hall, the crowd chanted, “No justice! No peace! No racist police!” Other chants targeted KPD officers by name, as well as school resource officers working at Kingston High School, directly across Broadway from City Hall. The hour-long protest concluded with marchers leaving protest signs on the steps of City Hall as a message to Mayor Steve Noble, who was out of town attending a conference.
“KPD abuses their authority a lot, it’s out of control,” said Marshall’s cousin, Naequan Foxx. “They don’t answer to anyone.”
The rally comes amid a wave of activism aimed at the KPD. In recent months, pressure from Rise Up Kingston and other groups have led the police commission to adopt some new policies, including routine reviews of all use of force by KPD officers by the commissioners and a “right to know” policy that requires cops to offer an explanation and a business card anytime they perform a traffic stop or field interview.
The department has also adopted new policies to make it easier to file misconduct complaints against officers and recently began issuing body cameras to all members of the patrol division. Other policies sought by the reformers, including public disclosure of discipline against officers accused of misconduct have been blocked by state civil service law or provisions in the Kingston Police Benevolent Association’s labor agreement. In a Facebook post touting the march, Rise Up Kingston organizers expressed frustration with the pace of change. The post claimed that a series of police-community forums sponsored by the Kingston Ministers Alliance had failed to produce meaningful reform.
“The Ministers Alliance has continually attempted to create space for conversation in order for [the] Community to feel safe interacting with the KPD,” the post reads. “The Misconduct and injustices being displayed by some of our City officials has increased recently and left us hopeless and in fear of Police presence.”