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Dirt biker says cop pushed him for no reason – and video shows the crash

Hamisu Ango says he was riding his dirt bike on a Buffalo street, with police permission, when an officer pushed him and pointed a gun in his face after he crashed.

A blurry video doesn't show the push. But it shows the aftermath.

The story unfolded on June 17, 2017. Ango and some friends, who like to ride dirt bikes, intended to show off their bikes to the crowd during the Juneteenth parade near Martin Luther King Jr. Park. They planned to curb their bikes on streets near the parade route, Ango said, talk up their hobby to anyone interested and encourage people to ride with them.

"There are a lot of dirt-bike trails in Buffalo," Ango said.

Ango said a police lieutenant told him it would be OK for the group to ride their bikes on side streets where traffic had been stopped because of the parade. Ango didn't get the lieutenant's name, but he said said the man assured him he would put out the word to the force handling traffic and crowd control.

 

Ango admits he wasn't wearing a helmet as he rode.

As Ango turned from East Ferry Street onto Moselle Street, he saw two cops blocking traffic to protect the parade route, which was a short distance away. Cars on Moselle that were heading toward the parade route were only inching along. Ango was in the opposite lane, driving away from the parade, not toward it.

One of the cops ran toward him and pushed him, Ango said.

In court papers, lawyers for the city deny the allegation. The push cannot be seen on Ango's video, which he got from the New City Market, a small grocery. But it does show Ango and his dirt bike slide into a utility pole. As the bike crashes to a stop, an officer runs to him, draws something from his waistband and points it briefly at Ango.

It was the officer's firearm, Ango said.

The Buffalo Police Department's policy on the use of force says officers should draw their guns only when they feel their life and safety, or the life and safety of another person, are in danger. Ango was not armed, and on the video he shows no violence toward the cop.

Everyone is small in the frame because Ango's video is actually a video of a video. With his cellphone, he made a recording of the market's recording.

"I went down so hard," Ango said. "I'm bleeding. I've got a puddle of blood on the ground. My ankle is hurt. I was scared."

"Get the (vulgarity) on the ground," the cop yelled, according to Ango.

Ango said he stammered out something about having permission to ride there.

"He got on his radio and called somebody," Ango said.

The officer reached to his shirt for a microphone. Minutes later, Ango wasn't being held anymore. He was free to go. And he wasn't given a ticket for riding an unregistered vehicle on a city street, which would have led to a fine.

Ango was now angry.

"Why did you do that?" Ango said he asked the cop.

Ango said the cop responded: "Get the (vulgarity) out of here. You are already beat up enough."

Ango later took pictures of his injuries and sought treatment. Large patches on his arms were blood-red. The skin had been scraped off when he slid.

Hamisu Ango says he lost patches of skin when he slid. (Photo courtesy of Matthew Albert)

Buffalo police refused to comment because the Ango matter is now the subject of litigation.

A lawyer for Ango, Matthew Albert, alleges in a lawsuit that the officer, by knocking Ango off the bike, used excessive force on a citizen who did nothing wrong. Even if the officer wanted to question Ango, "the use of force still was massively in excess to any force needed to execute a traffic stop," Albert wrote.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, has been hamstrung by the fact Ango does not know the officer's name, and Albert has so far been unable to gather the records that will identify the officer or others involved in the circumstances. He had filed court papers attempting to force the city to provide certain records, but an attorney for the city fought Albert's request and won.

Albert said he won't be able to proceed without the officer's name.

"In federal court, defendants have to be individually held responsible," he said. "And you can't hold an unknown entity or an unknown individual responsible. So it's imperative that we obtain the officer's identity."

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