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6 suspended over slurs are newer guards; list of probe targets includes union aide

The six security officers suspended last week by the city housing authority following reports of a racial incident with tenants are rank-and-file officers who are relative newcomers to the force.

The six are suspected of being involved in or having knowledge of an incident Oct. 7, when residents of the Perry housing project, south of downtown, said that a carload of white men fired shots in the air and yelled racial taunts at black residents.

Disciplinary charges are expected to be filed this week against some or all of the officers, whom the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority didn't identify when it suspended them Friday without pay.

But authority sources told The Buffalo News that the officers suspended are:

  • Michael DiNardo, the most experienced of those suspended, with 3 1/2 years on the force. DiNardo is president of the union unit that represents security officers.
  • Ralph Skinner, who joined the department 21/2 years ago.
  • He and his four brothers have been accused by residents in the Old First Ward of threatening and beating people in the neighborhood in an effort to find the man suspected of killing their brother in August.
  • Patrick Pascall, who, like Skinner, joined the force in April 1988.
  • David Fay, who joined the department in April 1989.
  • Robert Browne, who joined the force last December.
  • Paul Britzzalaro, who also joined the force last December.

All the officers are white, and all but Browne and Britzzalaro enjoy permanent Civil Service job status.
Authority Executive Director Michael Clarke would neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the list of suspended officers.

He declined to comment on the situation until the Buffalo Police Department and the district attorney conclude their investigations.

Clarke asked the police and district attorney to investigate after his staff took conflicting statements from tenants and officers about the incident.

Witnesses said men in a car that included security officers shouted racial insults at tenants and fired shots in the air at the Perry project. The slurs and shots apparently occurred after the men returned from a Buffalo Bills game in Orchard Park.

Some witnesses said the men staged a tailgate party at the project before the game and insulted tenants as they left the project for the game.

Officers who were questioned denied that shots were fired and said whatever transpired occurred after they were approached by someone trying to sell them drugs.

The authority employs a 49-member security staff that is empowered to patrol the authority's 27 projects and arrest people on criminal charges on authority grounds.

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