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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Connected Police Chief Brings Out the Worst in Cops

Eastchester police chief hit during appearance by suspended cop's supporter
The Journal News by Will David - November 5, 2010

EASTCHESTER, NY — A Town Board meeting erupted into mayhem when a former police officer who was supporting a Hispanic police officer who was suspended without pay hit police Chief Timothy Bonci in the face with folders and was later arrested. Former Eastchester police Officer Jeffrey Meyer Jr. said he "lost it" after talking to the Town Board about what he believed are inequities in the suspension of Officer Ramon Rosado, 41, without pay when other police officers and local officials get away with much more. Meyer, who retired after 20 years on a medical disability last week, said he walked back down the aisle where Bonci was sitting during the Wednesday night meeting to ask him to explain how the department treats everyone differently. "I threw the file at him, and my file hit him in the face," Meyer said. "A couple of guys got on top of me, and there was a melee. (Bonci) looked like an idiot, and so did I." Bonci suffered red marks and swelling under his right eye. Meyer surrendered Thursday at police headquarters and was charged with second-degree harassment, a violation. He was arraigned in Town Court and released without bail. He is due back in court Wednesday. The incident happened at a Town Board meeting in which supporters of Rosado showed up for a second consecutive board meeting to protest his suspension since this summer without pay. Rosado, a six-year member of the force, faces departmental hearings in connection with a May 23 case in which he was accused of making unlawful arrests. Rosado arrested a town man and his sister on obstruction of governmental administration charges. The charges were dropped by the county prosecutor, and Eastchester police opened an internal investigation of Rosado. He was later suspended without pay. He could be fired after a departmental hearing. Rosado, who is Puerto Rican, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit a year and a half ago against Bonci, the Town Board and the police department alleging harassment and discrimination. Like his departmental hearing, the lawsuit is pending. Town Supervisor Anthony J. Colavita said local legislation was approved Wednesday night that will allow the Town Board to have a public hearing at its next meeting and vote on an impartial hearing officer for Rosado's case. Colavita, who was the target of verbal attacks by Meyer, said the board has allowed everyone to speak on behalf of Rosado even though it has been raucous at times. Colavita added that the board has remained "respectful and professional." Colavita said he and Town Board members could not discuss specifics of the case. Attorney John D'Alessandro, who is representing Rosado and Meyer, said the Town Board and police force caused the incident to turn ugly. "It sounds like this was an unfortunate incident," D'Alessandro said. "When you suspend a police officer for four months without pay and due process, that could inflame the passions of that police officer's supporters." D'Alessandro added about Meyer, "To arrest a private citizen for speaking at a public hearing seems like a bit of an overreaction."

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