Ken Finkelman on Democracy Now

Ken Finkelman, Staff Attorney in the Queens Criminal Defense Office, appeared on Democracy Now today and discussed the case of his client, Leroy Cline who was punched in the face and arrested by the officer who arrested tennis star James Blake.

Finkelman told Juan Gonzalez that he had been investigating Officer Frascatore for over a year.

"And it was an unbelievable battle, the DA’s Office, to convince them to drop charges against Mr. Cline, and they were refusing to do it, despite the fact that the medical records showed that the only injury to this officer was to the middle knuckle of his fist and that the officer had told medical personnel that he had punched somebody in the mouth, and despite the fact we had two officers—I mean, two witnesses in the vehicle at the time of the incident. My client passed a polygraph test.

"Once we started interviewing other people in the community who had very similar experiences with Officer Frascatore, as far as having charges made up against them, being assaulted, people who had never gone to the CCRB, we were able to get the raw data concerning him from the CCRB, because that was their position at the time. If you made a FOIA request, you could find out how many complaints there were. At that point, we were able to use that raw data to get a subpoena, and a former commissioner of the CCRB, Judge Lopez, signed it, and that’s when we found out about this audiotape.

"And it was only because the audiotape was revealed, which showed that Officer Frascatore had lied about the Hines case. Officer Frascatore had entered, without a warrant, a woman’s home and demanded a bicycle because, he said, it was arrest evidence in a riding-your-bike-on-the-sidewalk case against Ms. Hines’ husband. And Ms. Hines basically just said, "What are you doing here? Why do you need the bike?" And then she got arrested, simply for delaying. And then he lied, in a sworn statement, under oath, in a complaint, and said that she has said, "F.U., I’m not giving you the bike." It was only because of that audiotape that the DA’s Office was willing to dismiss the charges. Now the CCRB is refusing to provide that raw data in any case. That’s been their response to this absolute surge in police violence, and so it’s very, very disturbing that that would be the response of the CCRB."

Finkelman went on to say that "It used to be that you could get the raw data pursuant to the Freedom of Information law. That raw data was very useful. Now their position is, no raw data should be provided. As a matter of fact, they highlighted, in their yearly report, that they are being much more protective of police officers now. This is their claim to fame at this point. And as a matter of fact, the Legal Aid Society brought a lawsuit in the Garner case to get the raw data, the Supreme Court judge agreed with us, and now they’re appealing. And so, this is the most shocking thing I can imagine, because if we hadn’t had that information in the Cline case, none of this would have gotten out. Nobody would be talking about this. They would all seem like separate cases. It’s only because we had the raw data, a judge signed the subpoena, we had the material, and Robert Lewis from NPR brought a story with that audiotape. That’s why we’re here today."