Federal Lawsuit Says District Attorney DiFiore is Covering-Up Murder of Brave Cop, Christopher Ridley
by Frank Brady - April 12, 2009
The father of 23-year-old slain Mount Vernon, New York, Police Officer Christopher A. Ridley filed a lawsuit on friday, April 10, 2009 in White Plains federal court alleging that his son was murdered, and that various Westchester County officials covered up known facts of the crime.
Stanley Ridley is the lone plaintiff in the federal action (09civ3379) against 9 defendants: JANET DiFIORE, Westchester County District Attorney, county detective ROBIN MARTIN, police officer FRANK OLIVERI, police officer JOSE CALERO, police officer CHRISTIAN GUTIERREZ, Public Safety Commissioner THOMAS BELFIORE, medical examiner MILLARD HYLAND, county executive ANDREW SPANO and the COUNTY OF WESTCHESTER.
The complaint alleges that at about 5:00pm on January 25, 2008, off-duty Officer Ridley was murdered while coming to the assistance of an assault in progress. The allegations include:
- Officer Ridley had extended both arms and was displaying his badge.
- That officer Calero and Gutierrez shot Officer Ridley, and he fell to the ground.
- Officer Oliveri approached Officer Ridley and shot him at point blank range.
- Officer Oliveri retrieved Officer Ridley's badge from the sidewalk and secreted it.
- The incident was captured on a least four security video cameras, the tapes now secreted.
- The Medical Examiner's report indicates powder burns on Officer Ridley's forehead.
- That District Attorney DiFiore determined that a cover-up would better serve her politically.
- That the Medical Examiner's Report has been improperly kept secret.
- Officer Ridley's head was bandaged in the morgue to hide the close rang bullet hole.
Slain Officer Memorialized Amid Questions
The New York Times by NICOLE NEROULIAS - February 1, 2009
The newly designated Detective Christopher A. Ridley Plaza on Court Street here and Detective Christopher A. Ridley Way in front of Mount Vernon Police Department headquarters pay tribute to the off-duty officer who was mistakenly shot by county police officers last year as he tried to apprehend a violent homeless man in downtown White Plains. The memorial signs also serve as a cautionary reminder of the risks faced by police officers, particularly when responding to a crime in plain clothes. On Jan. 25, 2008, Mr. Ridley, a 23-year-old Mount Vernon officer, was struggling to detain Anthony Jacobs, whom he had spotted assaulting another man, when county police officers opened fire. Witnesses told investigators that Mr. Ridley, who was killed instantly, did not seem to hear warnings to drop the gun he was carrying and showed no sign of his badge.
Within a week, the Mount Vernon department posthumously promoted Mr. Ridley to the rank of detective. Six weeks later, shortly before a grand jury chose not to indict the four county officers involved in the shooting, Thomas Belfiore, the county’s public safety commissioner, appointed a seven-member panel to review the curriculum at the Westchester County Police Academy, which trains the recruits for all 43 departments in the county. “We can’t change the circumstances of that day, but we can make it have a meaning,” said Andrew J. Spano, county executive, last Sunday at the dedication ceremony at 85 Court Street, the scene of Mr. Ridley’s death. The meaning, however, varies for those affected by Mr. Ridley’s death: law enforcement agencies, family members and friends, young black men and others. The panel commissioned by Mr. Belfiore — two criminal justice professors, four law enforcement officials and a Mount Vernon pastor — came up with 64 recommendations in May. The academy has put 45 into practice, including having recruits go through diverse role-playing confrontation exercises that are videotaped and critiqued. Forty recruits recently completed the revised 20-week program, including 7 from Mount Vernon. All 270 county police officers have received enhanced confrontation training, as will Westchester’s probations and corrections officers, Mr. Belfiore said.
A few months ago, similar training was added to the statewide curriculum, through Mr. Belfiore’s position as chairman of New York’s Municipal Police Training Council. Westchester’s local departments have received the new materials and will each decide how best to incorporate those lessons for their 2,200 officers, he said. “We want, as best as we can, to make sure that this doesn’t happen again,” Mr. Belfiore said. “It’s a sad but important tribute to Detective Ridley.” David E. Chong, the Mount Vernon police commissioner, said his 207-member department, which Detective Ridley served for two years, now offers a training day that covers off-duty confrontations. “Learning how to act, how to identify yourself and how to recognize potential dangers when you take action in plain clothes is very, very important,” he said. While they appreciate the improvements to police training, activists like Damon K. Jones, executive director of Westchester’s chapter of the National Black Police Association, and the Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church, where Mr. Ridley had been a youth mentor, say much more needs to be done. They have called on Westchester police departments to hire and promote more minorities and for the county to create a civilian review board on police procedures.
Mr. Ridley’s family, which agrees that more education and review policies are needed, said it plans to file a lawsuit within six weeks against the county and the cities of Mount Vernon and White Plains. They want “real answers” about the shooting circumstances and whether Mr. Jacobs, who lived in one of the county’s homeless shelters, had been appropriately supervised, said Calvin Scholar, the family’s lawyer. Mr. Jacobs has since pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and will be sentenced to six years in prison on Feb. 10. But those who loved Mr. Ridley say no amount of commemoration, compensation or curriculum changes can make up for their loss. Even their own efforts to make sure his sacrifice was not in vain, including establishing a memorial foundation to encourage youths to enter law enforcement and to finance police awareness programs, feel bittersweet, his parents, Felita Rucker Bouché and Stanley Ridley, said. At the plaza dedication ceremony, Mr. Ridley tearfully thanked the crowd of more than 150 government officials, officers and residents who had braved frigid temperatures. Such events, which bring members of the community together, truly honor his son’s memory, Mr. Ridley said. “I gave him to the community so he could make the community better,” he said.
------ FROM THE YONKERS INSIDER:
HEADLINE: $90 MILLION SUIT : D.A JANET DIFIORE ALLEGEDLY COVERED UP MURDER OF BLACK POLICE OFFICER. ACCUSED OF RACISM, AND CORRUPTION. CALLS FOR HER RESIGNATION.
FOR INFORMATION CONTACT: BRUCE LYNN 212-706-0696
WHERE: 85 COURT ST. WHITE PLAINS N.Y
WHEN: TUESDAY, APRIL 14TH, 11AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- PRESS CONFERENCE
FATHER OF SLAIN MOUNT VERNON POLICE OFFICER, CHRISTOPHER RIDLEY FILES $90 MILLION DOLLAR FEDERAL LAWSUIT ALLEGING A MURDER COVER UP BY DISTRICT ATTORNEY JANET DIFIORE AND COUNTY OFFICIALS.
OFF DUTY SON WAS SHOT POINT BLANK, EXECUTION STYLE IN THE HEAD BY A WHITE COUNTY POLICE OFFICER.
A Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit was filed on Friday April 10th in U.S District Court in White Plains naming District Attorney Janet Difiore, County Executive Andrew Spano, Westchester Police Commissioner Thomas Belfiore, the County of Westchester and four County police officers who were involved in the shooting. The lawsuit alleges that Westchester County Police officer, Oliveri, a Caucasian, shot off duty police officer, Ridley, a black man, point blank range in the head as Ridley was falling defenselessly to the ground after being shot several times in the midsection by Westchester County Police. Ridley a brave Mount Vernon Police Officer was off duty and in the process of stopping an assault in progress in front of 85 Court St. in White Plains N.Y. when shot.
This was an execution says Civil Rights Attorney, Jonathan Lovett. The D.A, Janet Difiore determined that to cover it up would better serve her politically, says Lovett. Oliveri in an attempt to cover up the killing retrieved Officer Ridley's badge from the sidewalk and secreted it-- so that it could be later discovered in Officer Ridley's automobile- a circumstance later used by the Defendants to justify the County Police's killing Officer Ridley on the pretext that he did not identify himself as a policeman. Corruption in the D.A.'s office will not be tolerated. We are demanding the resignation of District Attorney Janet Difiore, effective immediately says Damon K. Jones of the National Black Police Assoc. She has shown on many occasion by her corrupt and biased treatment of Blacks and Latino' that she is a racist and therefore unfit. The Press Conference will be held at the same location where Officer Ridley was shot and killed, (85 Court St. White Plains, N.Y.) Present at the Press Conference will be, Officer Ridley's father, Stanley Ridley, Civil Rights Attorney, Jonathan Lovett, Damon K. Jones, (National Black Police Assoc ), Civil Rights Activists, and family and friends of the Ridley family.