Before the senseless and untimely death of my son, Mark Virginia, I did not believe all the stories I read and heard about police brutality. I was against a citizens review board, thinking it would hurt the effectiveness of the Buffalo Police Department. But since my son's death, my views have changed. My family feels Mark's civil rights were violated. Mark was doing nothing illegal when he was stopped by the police.
The officers' story of suspected drug dealing is not a viable one. If the officers really believed a drug transaction was occurring at the gas station on Fillmore Avenue and Genesee Street when Mark stopped to loan an employee money, the officers should have intervened at that moment. Then, if it were really a drug deal, the police would have had both the buyer and the seller.
Although the police assert that Mark resisted arrest violently, the opinion of Dr. Michael Baden, co-director of forensic sciences for the New York State Police, is otherwise. In a brief conversation with my son Tom at Daemen College on Nov. 12, Dr. Baden, who examined Mark's body, stated that the nature of Mark's wounds indicated that he was administering "little, if any punishment. The nature of his wounds indicated he was receiving punishment."
If a citizens review board can prevent irresponsible and reckless officers from abusing other poor innocents like Mark Virginia, it will be of great value to the community.
THOMAS A. VIRGINIA SR. Buffalo