LOCKPORT – David J. Mongielo, the Lockport “sign guy” who tangled with police at a roadblock on Lincoln Avenue on June 27, filed a $575,000 police brutality suit in State Supreme Court last week.
Mongielo claims he was beaten by Officer William E. Jones after Mongielo, the owner of a Robinson Road auto repair shop, protested being stopped at a roadblock set up by city police to look for vehicle violations.
Mongielo used his cellphone to take video of the confrontation, and his attorney, Frank T. Housh, said Tuesday, “I’ve looked at the video, and it appears, the claim may have some merit.”
But Housh is not taking part in Mongielo’s self-filed lawsuit, because Mongielo included some claims about the lack of legitimacy of local courts, which Mongielo says lack authority because they were created by statutes.
“Statutory law perpetrated over the people by elected, appointed and employed servants who have come to believe they are the masters of the people is a fiction and an act of high treason,” Mongielo wrote.
Housh is representing Mongielo in Lockport City Court on the criminal charges filed against him after the roadblock confrontation: second-degree obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest, second-degree harassment, unregistered vehicle and two counts of using a cellphone while driving.
Mongielo also is represented by Housh in Lockport Town Court, where Housh forced Justice Raymond E. Schilling to declare a mistrial July 29 in Mongielo’s long-running case in which he is accused of violating the town’s ordinance against signs that change “format” more than once every 10 minutes.
Mongielo, who has an LED video signboard in front of his shop, is to be tried again, but the only current court date in the town is Oct. 1 for argument of pretrial motions.
In the city, Judge William J. Watson, who rejected Mongielo’s self-written motion that the court’s existence is invalid, has scheduled a Sept. 4 pretrial conference on the charges from the roadblock. Mongielo named Watson and Assistant District Attorney Joel M. Grundy in his lawsuit, charging them with conspiring to violate his rights.
Mongielo contends that Lockport officers were angry with him because he was expected to testify in the suppression hearing of a friend who was arrested in a drug bust in the Niagara County Courthouse parking lot, an arrest Mongielo witnessed.
On his first trip through the roadblock, he contends that he told Jones the stop violated his rights, and pulled out a cellphone to tape the encounter. He said Jones ordered him to pull over, but a superior officer directed Jones to let him go.
A half-hour later, Mongielo returned in the opposite direction, heading from lunch at home back to his business. Another officer, not named in the suit, ordered him to pull over, this time accusing Mongielo of not having his registration sticker fully affixed to the windshield, according to Mongielo’s account.
Jones wrote that Mongielo refused to give officers his driver’s license and refused to leave the vehicle. Mongielo, who said he turned on the camera in his phone again, said he was pulled from the truck. He said Jones took the phone and twisted his arm behind his back, slamming him head-first to the pavement so hard that Mongielo’s shoe flew off. He claims that Jones jumped on him repeatedly before forcing him into a patrol car.
After half an hour in custody, according to his account, a city ambulance took Mongielo to Eastern Niagara Hospital for treatment of facial and knee injuries.
Jones, however, wrote that Mongielo pushed him away after he was taken from the vehicle, and after being told he was under arrest, still tried to pull away from him and Officer Kevin Lucinski. Jones said his left knee was scraped in the fracas.