Policy: Law

Feds: 3 Buffalo cops used excessive force on teens

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Crime,New York,Law

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A retired Buffalo police lieutenant and two active officers have been indicted on charges of using excessive force against four teenagers, one of whom was shot with a BB gun after a 2009 arrest, authorities announced Wednesday.

Officers Raymond Krug and Joseph Wendel were suspended with pay Tuesday after being accused in the federal indictment of violating the teens' civil rights, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said at a news conference.

"These officers stand accused of shooting one of the young men who had already been placed in the police car, who had already been in handcuffs, shooting that young man two times with a BB gun," U.S. Attorney William Hochul said.

Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski, who retired in 2011, was accused of beating the suspects, who were 17 and 18 at the time, at the scene and at the police station, according to a related civil lawsuit against the officers that was settled in December. Documents filed as part of the civil suit said the teens had been arrested for shooting a BB gun from a car into a crowd of people.

None of the officers could be reached by phone for comment. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

"Ninety-nine percent of our officers each and every day do an excellent job. They put their lives on the line for this community," Derenda said. "Their badges should not be tarnished by the actions of a few. We will be aggressive in weeding out the few that don't follow the rules."

The civil case was brought by two of the teenagers and their mothers. A Dec. 24 letter from the plaintiffs' attorney to the judge said the case had been tentatively settled for $75,000, pending city approval. Attorney Roland Cercone said Wednesday the final settlement was sealed.

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