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'I did my job,' says cop accused of excessive force against teen

For two weeks, Raymond Krug sat in his courtroom seat and listened to witness after witness implicate him in the BB gun shooting of a teenager nine years ago.

On Tuesday, the Buffalo police detective got his chance to talk.

Krug, accused of using excessive force against the teen and three of his friends, took the witness stand and denied the allegations that he and another officer violated the teens' civil rights that night in 2009.

"Ray, did you shoot Donald Silmon with a BB gun?" Terrence M. Connors, his lawyer, asked him on Tuesday.

"No," Krug said.

"Have you ever shot anyone with a BB gun?" Connors asked.

"No," he answered.

Investigated by the FBI, Krug was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2014 and charged with using excessive force against the four teens after they were arrested on Treehaven Road. They were suspected of a drive-by BB gun shooting earlier that night.

At the core of the case is the allegation that Krug shot Silmon, then 17, in the leg with a BB gun he seized from the teens. The other officer, Joseph Wendel, is charged with encouraging Krug to shoot again and later punching Silmon in the stomach.

Four lied under oath about 2009 BB gun shootings, lawyers for officers say

"Did Joseph Wendel ever encourage you to shoot Donald Silmon with a BB gun?" Connors asked him at one point.

"No," Krug said.

"Are you sure of that?" Connors asked.

"Yes," he answered.

"Did you do your job that night?" Connors asked his client.

"I did my job," Krug said.

The officer's testimony followed a two-week-long prosecution case that suggests Krug, a 19-year veteran of the force, and Wendel, a 10-year veteran, conspired to use excessive force.

Joseph Wendel. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

The two officers are currently suspended with pay.

Krug never pointed the finger at anyone else, but on several occasions, he tried to implicate Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski, the third Buffalo police officer on the scene that night. Kwiatkowski has already pleaded guilty and admitted his use of excessive force against the teens.

When prosecutors asked Krug why he never before mentioned Kwiatkowski, he said he initially doubted the allegations of a BB gun shooting but over time came to believe they were true. He also noted that Kwiatkowski was the officer who recovered the BB gun from the suspects' car and later gave it to Krug for safe keeping.

Krug said he took the BB gun from Kwiatkowski and immediately placed it into an evidence envelope in the trunk of his car.

Later, when asked if Kwiatkowski could be the shooter, he said, "I had my belief, yes."

During his testimony, Krug acknowledged that he and Kwiatkowski were friends at one point but indicated the relationship soured enough that he felt compelled to seek a transfer.

"I really didn't feel comfortable working for Lt. Kwiatkowski," he told the jury.

Prosecutors also questioned Krug about his interest in a plea deal and a meeting at the U.S. Attorney's Office involving Connors and Rodney O. Personius, who is Wendel's defense lawyer. They say it occurred just days after the defense learned about the likely testimony of Thomas Breski, a Buffalo firefighter who alleges that Wendel confessed to the shooting during a private conversation three years after the incident.

"Are you aware that your attorney and the attorney for Joseph Wendel came to the U.S. Attorney's Office, met with prosecutors and asked for a deal?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango.

"I was not aware at all," Krug answered.

The teenagers' arrests on Treehaven Road that night followed a drive-by BB gun shooting in which one of the teens fired into a crowd at Main and Custer streets and struck two people.

The four teens, all residents of University Heights, were charged with felony assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. They eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of harassment. They were each sentenced to a conditional discharge and community service.

Retired Lt. Gregory Kwiatkowski. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

On Monday, the defense revealed evidence it says links the teens to 18 other shooting incidents that night. They also say the teens lied under oath when they took the stand and testified that they went home right after the shooting at Main and Custer.

Krug's testimony also follows Kwiatkowski's appearance on the stand. Kwiatkowski, who the defense has repeatedly portrayed as the real villain that night, denied firing the BB gun and insists he gave it to either Wendel or Krug.

Kwiatkowski also testified that he and Krug punched one of the teens during a scuffle at the police precinct where the four teens were taken for processing. Krug insists the scuffle and punches never happened.

He also says he never saw Kwiatkowski use excessive force, even though the former lieutenant admits he slammed each of the four teens head-first onto a police car.

For his role in the BB gun incident, Kwiatkowski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of deprivation of rights under color of law.

The criminal case came years after Silmon and another teen sued the city over the BB gun shooting and, according to court papers, won cash settlements totaling $75,000.

In the civil suit, Silmon said it was Krug who shot him and Wendel was the one egging him, telling him to shoot again.

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