Buffalo Police Officer Christopher Calloway pleaded guilty today to a reduced charge in the beating while on duty of a handcuffed Marine Corps recruit whose eyes were taped shut.
A judge told him his conduct raised concerns about his "capacity to serve" in law enforcement.
City Judge Michael L. Broderick told Calloway, 26, a police officer for four years, that if he cannot improve his attitude "you better get out of this business, there isn't any room for that conduct."
Erie County District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon said Calloway's guilty plea to a non-criminal harassment charge was only one element of a continuing probe of Calloway's conduct and that of four other officers involved in the Feb. 24 beating of Marine Corps Pvt. Jeffrey Dunbar, 20.
"This investigation isn't over," Dillon said. "There are other matters surrounding the matter that I'm continuing to look at."
Dillon refused to comment further, but law enforcement sources said the use of the official police radio by officers to alert Calloway to the arrest of Dunbar and the conduct of other on-duty officers at the scene of the beating are being scrutinized by Dillon.
Dunbar completed basic training at Parris Island, S.C., Friday. He was arrested on Sidway Street about 1 a.m. Feb. 24 on a stolen car charge that was later dismissed.
Dunbar, who declined to comment today, suffered facial injuries in the police beating. Dunbar enlisted prior to the February incident but didn't report for training until late March.
Calloway admitted to Broderick today that he "slapped" Dunbar in another officer's patrol car on Carroll Street under the Louisiana Street bridge shortly after Dunbar's arrest.
Calloway, who has remained on duty but faces departmental charges, wasn't required by the court to explain his misconduct. But legal sources say Calloway, whose car had been stolen prior to the incident, attacked Dunbar because he felt Dunbar knew something about the theft.
Broderick fined Calloway $250 and ordered him to pay an additional $27 in court fees under a plea deal in which prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor assault charge that carried a possible one-year jail term. Calloway had been scheduled to begin a non-jury trial today.
The incident "has to bring into question your capacity to serve," Broderick told Calloway.
During departmental proceedings scheduled for Wednesday, Calloway is expected to receive a 30-day suspension without pay, law enforcement sources said.
Joseph Matteliano, attorney for the Dunbar family, said he filed a notice-of-claim against the city, the prelude to a possible lawsuit.
Thomas H. Burton, a police union attorney who represented Calloway, called the plea deal "even-handed" and insisted Calloway had a fellow police officer who was prepared to testify that Dunbar was hurt scuffling with officers on Sidway Street.
Jean Dunbar, 38, the victim's mother, said her son agreed to the plea deal but said the police department "better clean up its act."
"They better screen their rookies before the put a uniform on them, or the next time this happens they may kill somebody," Mrs. Dunbar said.