Editor’s Note: The following column about the recent Danby standoff was written by Edward C. Kokkelenberg, a Danby fire commissioner and Cornell research fellow.
To see another perspective, read a story published today in The Voice: “‘I think the police did what they were supposed to,’ cop expert says of Danby standoff.”
Additional guest submissions can be sent to me at email@example.com.
— Jeff Stein
Ithaca Is Bluegrass Jan. 23-25
[fvplayer src=”https://vimeo.com/116876141″ loop=”true” mobile=”https://vimeo.com/116876141″]
Written by Edward Kokkelenberg:
Office of the Attorney General
Albany, NY 12224-0341
I am requesting the New York Attorney General’s office investigate an incident of police misconduct that occurred in Danby New York over the December 30, 2014 through January 2, 2015 period.
This incident resulted in one death, an assault by some 150 police officers over a three day and three night period that destroyed a home and thereby made a widow and two children homeless, saturated the entire contents of the home with a reported 150 tear gas canisters, and dumped much of the contents, not to mention all of the debris and trash the officers created, on the home’s lawn. This assault was carried out by the Sheriff of Tompkins County and the many forces he called in to the scene.
Newspaper reports that there were more than 40 Law enforcement officers on site for each shift over the three days and nights.
The man trapped in the house apparently killed himself with his own gun early on the second day of the assault, but since, being dead, he could not answer to the officers demands for surrender, they continued to lob flash bombs and tear gas into the structure. When that produced no response, they brought in an assault vehicle called a Rook from out of state which destroyed the house in an attempt obtain a surrender. You may find you tube pictures of both the Rook and the home destruction on the web.
It turned out that when his body was found, and was sent to Binghamton, it was said that he must have been dead for at least 24 hours and this is consistent with the statements by two neighbors who heard a shot quite early on the second morning, a full 48 hours before the police finally said the incident was over.
Oh! The reason the Sheriff did this was to serve a bench warrant for DUI.
And so cops tore down his house leaving it unlivable and he ended up dead and his family homeless with all of their possessions destroyed.
After watching several hearings and meetings about this incident, I understand that the sheriff’s men were trying to do their duty and we would be in a state of chaos if they were not there. As the father of a now retired Vestal policeman, I have some small understanding of what law enforcement men and women and their families go through. And I have read some of what Sgt. Young has said and watched the video of the County meeting of this past Monday.
But the conduct during this assault on the Cady home leaves me sad and angry; and it leaves me fearful. The tactics used smack of those we read about used by war lords. And the Survivor’s story is quite believable. Could this happen to any one of us?
So I look forward to the County’s report on this Hornbrook Road tragedy. But I was not impressed by the call for the Sheriff to conduct or participate in an inquiry; that seems a bit much. And his response to a question about his report “that he did not know when his report would be done as he is waiting for the coroner’s report” is simply stalling.
Therefore, I have asked the State and the Federal Attorneys General offices to investigate the incident as well.
I believe this was more than a simple over-reaction on the part of Tompkins county Sheriff and other police called in to the scene and would term it the use of an overly militarized and equipped police that results in unwarranted official violence
This police misconduct was not justice, did not follow the rule of law, and it was not consistent with any American values I know of. What happened was not right or good and does not represent my idea of a civil society for all including my now dead Danby neighbor.
Please investigate this; I and others will be following your investigation.
Edward C. Kokkelenberg
2114 Buttermilk Lane
Ithaca, New York