Hearing held in Lockport on whether an arrest at a seat belt checkpoint is admissible - The Buffalo News

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Hearing held in Lockport on whether an arrest at a seat belt checkpoint is admissible

LOCKPORT – Lockport auto repair shop owner and Conservative Party candidate for Town of Lockport supervisor David J. Mongielo has fought with the Town of Lockport for years over the legality of a sign in front of his Robinson Road shop, but he was in City Court on Wednesday fighting a different case – protesting the legality of his arrest by Lockport police at a road block four months ago.

Officers William E. Jones, who made the arrest, and Kevin Lucinski, who assisted, both testified on why they stopped Mongielo’s vehicle on the afternoon of June 27 at a Lincoln Avenue roadblock. Each noted that Mongielo was uncooperative, refusing to comply with orders to hand over his license, exit his vehicle, or put his hands behind his back when he was told he was under arrest.

At one point in the testimony, Mongielo bristled during Lucinski’s testimony calling out that he was lying, and then he was stopped in mid-sentence and hustled out of court by his attorney, Frank T. Housh, for a brief conference.

City Court Judge William Watson cautioned Mongielo that he could face contempt of court charges and sit in jail 15 days.

“I don’t want to do that and you don’t want me to do that,” Watson said. Housh told Watson, “My apologies. That won’t happen again.

After he was stopped June 27, Mongielo, 46, of Day Road, was charged with two counts of obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, unregistered motor vehicle, using a cellphone illegally and second-degree harassment.

Jones said Mongielo had gone through the roadblock a first time and “heckled him” saying to the officer, “What is this, Nazi Germany?”

Jones said he thought maybe it was another police officer playing a joke, but said Mongielo came back through 20 minutes later with a cellphone pointed out his open window and at that time it was also noted that his registration sticker was expired.

Both officers said at no time did they know who Mongielo was, nor about his sign case with the Town of Lockport. They each testified that he was asked eight to 10 times to produce his license, registration and insurance, but he refused and was pulled out of the vehicle when he refused to exit, eventually being forcibly taken to the ground when he would not put his hands on his vehicle. Jones said that after he took Mongielo to the ground, he put a knee into Mongielo’s back until he could be handcuffed. Lucinski said he pulled out his Taser, but did not activate it.

Mongielo has claimed police brutality and filed a claim against the city.

Housh, in closing, said the stop violated Mongielo’s constitutional rights and the charges should be dismissed. He cited case law that calls roadblocks used as a general crime deterrent unconstitutional.

Assistant District Attorney Joel Grundy disputed the case law used by Housh, saying in that specific case, it was used where checkpoints were primarily used to check for narcotics and does not apply to roadblocks used for legitimate public safety.

“Search and seizure must be reasonable. There has to be probable cause. In this case, he was displaying his cellphone as he passed,” Grundy said.

Watson will make a decision Nov. 27.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com

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