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Holding Center victim's uncle appeals for action; DA calls it 'threat'

Paul Metcalf told the district attorney he was writing to her as the uncle of the deceased and an "optimistic patriot who believes in our system of law and justice."

He went on to suggest in his email to District Attorney Lori Pettit Rieman of Cattaraugus County that she was doing too little to prosecute those responsible for the death of his nephew, Richard A. Metcalf Jr.

She eventually told him to stop threatening her.

"Please stop sending me your threatening emails," Rieman told Paul Metcalf, according to the email chain obtained by The News. "You have absolutely no clue as to what I am doing or have done with respect to your nephew's case."

A state agency says Richard Metcalf Jr. was strangled by the jail deputies who restrained him in the Erie County Holding Center in November 2012. The state Commission of Correction then urged the Erie County District Attorney's Office to consider a criminal prosecution. The job went to Rieman because the Erie County DA's Office had a conflict of interest.

Rieman took the case in February but has yet to say what she'll do with it.

Clock runs out on two possible charges in death of Holding Center inmate

Paul Metcalf emailed her nine months later, on Nov. 12, almost five years after his nephew died at age 35. His words emphasized the family's belief that the criminal justice system has so far let them down.

While  the family harbors little hope that criminal charges will be filed, the victim's father is gratified that Rieman agreed to meet with him within the next few weeks, he said through a family attorney. The lawyer, Thomas J. Casey, requested the meeting just days ago, and she agreed.

In his email Nov. 12, Paul Metcalf asked Rieman if she had seen the autopsy photos of Richard Metcalf's badly bruised body? He reminded her that jail  deputies knotted a spit mask around his neck and pulled a pillow case over his head, leaving him unable to breathe. He noted that the deputies had violated the jail's policies and procedures.

He went on to say he found it "suspicious" that after nine months she had not called people who have important information about the case, including the state  forensic pathologist who concluded Metcalf was asphyxiated, Dr. Michael Baden.

Metcalf, a retail industry consultant living in Massachusetts, ended his email by saying the family was still hoping for justice. He urged the prosecutor to do more.

"We are counting on you to be that person you were sworn in to be, that optimistic, bright woman who will do what's right regardless of the implications. I hope our faith in the system is well-founded," he said. "I trust it is and pray to God you don't join those animals by condoning their actions."

When he received no response, Paul Metcalf wrote again 10 days later. It was the day before Thanksgiving.

"It's very unfortunate that you are so neglectful of not only your duty but to any due diligence of obvious violations of the law," he said in his second  email. He suggested that given her inaction, she should not be able to sleep at night.

"Have a happy holiday with your family. We won't be able to," he said.

Rieman responded minutes later by telling him to stop the threats.

"You have absolutely no clue as to what I am doing or have done with respect to your nephew's case as I have not released my results or conclusions yet," she said.

"You have no idea how seriously I pursue my obligations and obviously are ignorant as to the numerous accomplishments I have made in pursuing the hundreds of cases in which I have sought justice. Your emails hereafter will go to junk mail as your complete lack of knowledge of the facts and law disturb me. Moreover, they are clearly veiled attempts to force me to act in a certain manner."

Paul Metcalf sent off one last message.

"I'm not sure what threats you are reading in my email," he said. "Actually, I have gone out of my way to be objective and give you the benefit of the doubt...

He mentioned that the autopsy found Richard Metcalf suffered 161 bruises plus broken ribs. Then, as the Commission of Correction said, he had been strangled.

"Maybe if I understood the law better I wouldn't still be expecting justice," Paul Metcalf wrote.

"I will not send you any further emails as it would appear it's not worth my time and [it's] obviously beyond your capacity as a public official to respond to them like an adult."

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