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Officer in police brutality trial heard BB gun shot, can't ID who pulled trigger

Nine years later, Sgt. Scott Grant still remembers what he heard and saw that night.

It was late May and the Cheektowaga police officer was assisting Buffalo police in the arrest of four teenagers when he heard the sound of a BB gun being fired.

A few moments later, Grant noticed a Buffalo cop holding a BB gun.

Grant's recollections of what happened on Treehaven Road that night in 2009 came to light Wednesday during the trial of Detective Raymond Krug and Officer Joseph Wendel,  the two Buffalo police officers accused of using excessive force against the four teenagers.

Krug is charged with shooting Donald J. Silmon, one of the teens, with a BB gun while Silmon sat handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. Wendel is accused of encouraging Krug to shoot again and of punching Silmon twice in the stomach.

"You heard a BB gun shot," Assistant U.S. Aaron J. Mango asked Grant at one point.

"Yes," the officer answered.

Later, Grant would testify that he heard only one shot, not the two that Silmon claims Krug fired at him.

"I recall one," he told the jury.

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Grant said he recognized the sound as coming from a BB gun, not a regular handgun, and on his way back to his car noticed a Buffalo police officer holding a BB gun.

Was it Krug?

Grant, who took the witness stand under subpoena, said he can't identify the officer he saw that night.

When Mango pressed him about his recollections, including previous grand jury testimony, Grant insisted he could not even confirm the color of the officer's uniform.

The uniform color is important because Krug and Wendel, as patrol officers, wore a dark blue or black shirt.

Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski, the other Buffalo officer on the scene that night and the one the defense often portrays as the real villain, wore a white shirt.

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Kwiatkowski has already admitted his role in the incident and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge. He will testify against Krug and Wendel.

"You don't want to be here do you?" Mango asked Grant at one point.

When the defense objected, Mango rephrased his question.

"Did you come here voluntarily?" he asked Grant.

"No," the officer answered.

Grant is the second law enforcement to testify under subpoena during the Krug and Wendel trial.

Davaughn Dantzler, one of the teens arrested that night, also took the stand Wednesday and testified that he was sitting next to Silmon when two police officers entered the car and asked them who owned the BB gun one of the officers was holding.

At that point, Dantzler told the jury, one of the officers shot Silmon. He also claims he heard another officer encourage the shooter to fire a second time, this time aiming for Silmon's genitals.

While confirming much of Silmon's account of what happened, Dantzler could not identify Krug or anyone else as the shooter.

Dantlzer, in fact, said at one point that he doesn't recall Buffalo police officers being at the scene at all that night.

Arrested with two other teens, Danztler and Silmon were accused of taking part in a drive-by BB gun shooting at Main and Custer streets earlier in the night.

All four were charged with felony assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. They ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge of harassment and were sentenced to a conditional discharge and community service.

During the trial Wednesday, both sides mentioned the civil suit that Silmon and Jeffrey E. Campbell II, one of the other teens, filed against the city.

In the end, the city settled the suit and paid Silmon $65,000 and Campbell $10,000.

Krug and Wendel, who are currently suspended with pay, face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The trial before U.S. District William M. Skretny resumes Thursday.

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