A retired Buffalo police lieutenant and two police officers have been indicted on charges of using excessive force against four teenagers in a case dating to 2009, authorities announced today.
Retired Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski and officers Raymond Krug and Joseph Wendel are accused of violating the civil rights of the four teenagers -- ages 17 and 18 at the time -- when they were in a car on Treehaven Road near University Heights on May 31, 2009.
Krug and Wendel were suspended with pay immediately after the federal indictments came out Tuesday, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda. Derenda said he has started the paperwork to have them suspended without pay.
The indictments against the three was announced today by U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr.
Hochul spoke at a press conference also attended by the FBI and Buffalo Police Department officials.
The officials declined to release details of the May 31, 2009 incident beyond saying that Kwiatkowski, Krug and Wendel used excessive force against the teens – all males – and that Krug and Wendel shot one of the young men with a BB gun that was in the young men’s car.
The names of the teenagers were not released. While injured during the incident, they were not hospitalized, and all are doing well now, authorities said. The teenagers filed a civil suit against the city that was settled earlier this year, officials said.
Authorities said the case has been under review by the Police Department and federal authorities since 2009, but is being brought up now because it has taken until now to complete the case. They did not elaborate.
Federal officials praised Derenda for helping to weed out bad cops by bringing cases to the attention of federal authorities. Derenda emphasized that 99 percent of police officers are to be commended for the great job they do protecting the City of Buffalo, and that the few abusing their authority will not be tolerated.
Today’s announcement comes after two recent incidents raising questions of police conduct. Two police officers, Robert E. Eloff and Adam E. O’Shei, were suspended in connection with an incident earlier this month at Molly’s Pub in University Heights. Another officer, John A. Cirulli, is expected to plead guilty to using excessive force in a prior incident that was brought to police attention when it was caught on a cell phone.
Derenda said he is saddened by the recent incidents but is satisfied that the Police Department is doing what needs to be done to deal with the officers.