(WNY News Now) – The New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (LEMIO) has issued its findings regarding a use of force incident involving officers from the Niagara Falls Police Department (NFPD).
Niagara Falls – New York’s Attorney General Letitia James’ Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (LEMIO) has recently released its report on a use of force incident involving officers from the Niagara Falls Police Department (NFPD). This inquiry was initiated in response to a civilian complaint filed on May 12, 2022, following a May 11, 2022, encounter outside the complainant’s home. The complainant alleged that NFPD officers used excessive force during her arrest on a disorderly conduct charge. The investigation involved interviews with both the complainant and the officers involved, scrutiny of home security camera footage, and a review of NFPD policies.
LEMIO’s investigation determined that Officer Travis Maggard arrested the complainant without probable cause and in retaliation for protected speech. Additionally, excessive force was used during the arrest. The report also revealed that the officers’ supervisor failed to adhere to NFPD’s Use of Force Policy and did not fulfill supervisory responsibilities as required by the policy. In light of these findings, LEMIO has recommended that the NFPD take several actions to address these issues.
On May 11, 2022, at around 9:15 p.m., the complainant observed NFPD officers arresting an individual near her home. The complainant, who had previously reported domestic abuse calls to the NFPD, approached the officers and began criticizing their actions. After a brief exchange, Officer Maggard forcibly arrested the complainant, who was subsequently handcuffed and taken to the police station. The incident was captured on the complainant’s home security camera and played a crucial role in the investigation. The officers issued the complainant an appearance ticket for disorderly conduct, a charge that can be issued at the scene without arrest. It’s important to note that this charge was later dismissed.
The report’s conclusions recommended the following actions for NFPD:
Draft and implement a disorderly conduct policy in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to educate officers on the elements of disorderly conduct and when to charge individuals with it.
Develop and implement an appearance ticket policy in consultation with OAG to provide guidance to officers on the issuance of appearance tickets and the appropriate circumstances for their use.
Provide additional training to officers, focusing on de-escalation techniques, appropriate use of force tactics, the NFPD’s Use of Force Policy, and the law regarding disorderly conduct and appearance tickets.
Since the incident, Officer Anisa Mahmood has left the NFPD and is now an officer with the Town of Niagara Police Department (TNPD). The OAG has also provided a copy of the report to the TNPD.
The Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (LEMIO) was established under Executive Law 75 to enhance public safety, safeguard civil liberties and rights, ensure compliance with constitutional protections and laws, and bolster public trust in law enforcement. It has the authority to receive and investigate complaints related to corruption, fraud, excessive force, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, or abuse in any covered agency, determining whether disciplinary or legal action is warranted and releasing public reports as necessary.