Prosecutors and defense attorneys dissected video footage taken outside bars on Chippewa Street during testimony on Tuesday in the alleged brutality case against a Buffalo police officer.
The focus on the second day of testimony in Corey R. Krug's trial – in which two fellow officers took the witness stand – centered on the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day 2014, as what's known as the biggest bar night of the year was winding down in downtown Buffalo.
The civil rights case against Krug centers on what happened on Chippewa more than four years ago, along with two other separate allegations that he used excessive force. Krug's defense attorneys argue his force was justified.
Jurors on Tuesday repeatedly were shown footage taken by a WKBW-TV photographer before, during and after Krug allegedly pushed a man against a car, took him to the ground and repeatedly hit him with a nightstick.
Devin Ford, of Lackawanna, the man seen in the video with Krug, had just been ejected from a Chippewa bar, along with another man after the other man sucker punched Ford inside, according to the testimony of two men who were out with Ford that night.
After the parties exited the former Indulge Bar & Night Club sometime around 3 a.m. on Nov. 27, 2014, the two sides nearly got into another physical confrontation in the middle of Chippewa Street, but were dispersed after police officers used pepper spray.
Men on each side of the dispute, despite the urging of officers to leave the area, seemed to be close to fighting again when officers intervened near the corner of Chippewa and Pearl streets, witnesses testified.
Officer Anniel Vidal, who was Krug's partner that night working a special police detail in the Chippewa area, testified the apparent dispute that started inside Indulge lingered out on the street.
Police intervened because it appeared the men were going to start fighting again, Vidal told the court.
"All I saw was Officer Krug standing and I saw the guy on the ground," Vidal testified. As he approached, Vidal said he ordered Ford – who was on his back – to get onto his stomach because he thought he was going to be arrested.
But Ford was not arrested and was allowed to walk away.
Officer Maurice Foster, who was stationed at the corner of Chippewa and Pearl that night, said he first noticed the WKBW cameraman walking down Chippewa. When Foster noticed the videographer was following Krug, he said he approached Krug to tell him the cameraman was following him.
Foster, who testified he had just separated two men involved in the dispute from inside the bar who had thrown punches, said he wasn't telling his fellow officer because he felt Krug was doing anything wrong, but he wasn't sure if Krug had heard him.
Krug's defense attorneys grilled the day's two other witnesses: Ford's best friend, Sean M. Dechent, and his older brother, Justin Dechent, both of whom had accompanied Ford to a bar in Lackawanna before the trio came to Chippewa and visited two bars.
Ford's injuries, including cuts and bruises on his legs, made him decide to sit out an annual football game played among friends later on Thanksgiving morning, Sean Dechent testified.
Ford, now 26, testified Monday about his encounter with Krug. "I just remember being on my back, saying 'I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything,' " he said in court.
After video footage of their encounter first became public, the FBI investigated and found evidence of two other alleged incidents of brutality, both of them documented in earlier civil suits against the officer.
Krug, a Buffalo officer since 2000, was charged in August 2015 with deprivation of rights under color of law and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara at several points during Tuesday's testimony found problematic some defense attorneys' questions of witnesses about what was seen in the footage.
"The video speaks for itself," the judge said at one point.
Defense attorneys argued Ford was lying in his accusations in order to bolster his pending lawsuit against Krug, the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo. The defense is also expected to introduce evidence of Krug's record, including having made more than 1,000 arrests and his reputation for working in the city's toughest neighborhoods and the everyday risks that go along with the job.
Krug's trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Prosecution witnesses are expected to be called about an August 2010 incident in which Krug was accused of hitting a man with a metal flashlight during an alleged confrontation at the man's Langmeyer Street home.