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Citizens air complaints to Buffalo Police Advisory Board

Some residents from Buffalo's minority community on Wednesday shared stories of their negative experiences with Buffalo Police officers, and offered their ideas for improving officer accountability.

The 1½ -hour-long discussion was held during an online forum arranged by the Buffalo Police Advisory Board in response to a recent incident in which two police officers were shown on a video holding down 30-year-old Quentin Suttles, of Buffalo, during his arrest on May 10 and allegedly hitting him in the face.

The incident is under investigation by the department's Internal Affairs Division and the Erie County District Attorney's Office.

The advisory board posted a portion of the video on its Facebook page. A longer portion is on Instagram.

Advisory board member Danielle Johnson, of Open Buffalo, who presided over the meeting, assured participants that the board would follow up on their complaints.

"We would like to address some of the awful things that have been happening and causing our community duress," said Johnson.

"These are not isolated incidents when it happens over and over and over again; it's a pattern," she added.

The 11-member advisory board, created in 2018, is made up of Buffalo citizens appointed by the Common Council. The board's focus is to convene public meetings and hear from residents, as well as to convey that information to councilmembers and make recommendations.

During the forum on Wednesday, Jillian Hanesworth, an upper West Side resident, said she felt her privacy was invaded when two officers shined a bright light in her window recently. She said the officers were less than forthcoming when she questioned their apparent focus on her.

"I go out of my way to avoid interactions with the police," Hanesworth said.

Dominique Calhoun, an East Side resident raised in Williamsville, told of how a verbal argument with a merchant resulted in a visit to her apartment by Buffalo police who, she alleged, dragged her down a flight of stairs into the snow while she was seven months pregnant.

Calhoun said she was initially booked on a charge of making a terroristic threat. She questioned the response of Internal Affairs to her complaints.

Resident Bianca Bassett called for increased accountability for officers who are repeatedly accused of abusing citizens.

A report filed by police said Suttles resisted the officers' commands and allegedly fought with them as they were patting him down and reaching down in his pants.

Police said they recovered from Suttles' left pocket a white powder substance, which has been submitted to a lab for testing.

"We opened an internal affairs investigation into this situation that preceded the struggle," Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said earlier this month.

A video posted on Facebook by the police advisory board shows two officers holding down Suttles, who is on the ground near the back of a car.

Suttles was arrested on multiple charges, including a felony count of destruction of physical evidence, as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of government administration.

A Catch-22 when cops exist to serve and protect – and to ticket

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