The Buffalo Police Department has opened an internal affairs case to investigate an incident involving a man being struck by a police cruiser on New Year’s Day 2017.
Instead of calling an ambulance and attending to James Kistner, police cuffed and charged him with felony criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, alleging that he attacked the police cruiser.
All charges were subsequently dismissed in court.
Security cameras caught on video Kistner’s encounter with Buffalo police officers.
The video shows one police cruiser driving past Kistner as he walks toward a second cruiser to find out why officers visited one of his rentals across the street from his home on Schmarbeck Avenue. The cruiser begins to move forward as Kistner reaches the vehicle, striking him in the arm and throwing him onto the road. Kistner sustained minor injuries.
The video also shows officers surrounding Kistner’s son and taking his cell phone. Kistner’s attorney said police cancelled a 911 call for Kistner, too.
News 4 Investigates first reported about the incident in December of last year.
Kistner said he mailed a complaint to Internal Affairs after his criminal case got resolved, which is about a year after the incident had occurred.
“They couldn’t have cared less,” said Kistner’s attorney, Anthony Rupp.
“And when we sued the case they couldn’t have cared less. The proper notice of claim was filed, the case was commenced, the city’s corporation counsel attorneys got involved, nobody could care less. It took the publicity, I think, from the news report before there was any reaction out of internal affairs whatsoever.”
Less than a month ago, Internal Affairs officers notified Rupp that they would be launching an investigation, almost two years after Kistner filed his civil complaint in federal court.
“He was very professional, very nice,” Rupp said of the lieutenant who called him.
“But we did not get into any kind of time frame.”
Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said he could not comment on an active investigation. He did say the department has no record of Kistner’s complaint.
From January 1 to June 30, 2019, the Internal Affairs division has received 43 complaints from within the department and 35 from outside the department.
In that same six-month period, the division has sustained 23 complaints and found insufficient evidence to clearly prove an allegation in 13 cases and exonerated officers in 53 cases. One case was determined “unfounded” which means the alleged facts did not occur or the officers accused was not involved.