BUFFALO, NY (WIVB)- A 21 year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department was sentenced Wednesday to four months in federal prison for violating the civil rights of four suspects in 2009.
Gregory Kwiatkowski had taken a plea deal to the charges and even testified against two officers who he supervised, but he ends up being only going to prison. It was a rare case where the judge went against the request of both the defense and prosecution who noted that Kwiatkowski “crossed the thin blue line” in testifying against his own men. “It’s very rare to see an officer testify against two other officers,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Tripi.
Last August , Officers Raymond Krug and Joseph Wendel were cleared of any charges related to punching and shooting a suspect in custody with a BB gun. Their supervising lieutenant, Kwiatkowskiv took a plea deal before that trial and testified against them. Now he is going to prison for his actions before they even arrived on the scene.
Kwiatkowski was been sentenced to four months in prison followed by four months home confinement for civil rights violations. It was May of 2009 when four black teens ages 17 and 18 were already pulled over by Cheektowaga police on Treehaven Road near the city border after being accused of shooting a BB gun at UB students.
Cheektowaga Police told prosecutors they had never seen anything like it before, saying Kwiatkowski showed up calling the teens savages, and asking if they quote “like shooting at white kids” . He then went around one by one and slammed them onto the patrol car.
Assistant US Attorney Aaron Mango says it shaped the way those young men view police. “How they view the police and their interactions with the police. It affected them substantially and continues to this day.”
Kwiatkowski was once a US Marine , who held back tears in court as he said part of the reason he quit the Buffalo Police force is because, “It was changing who I was as a person. I have forgotten the good that I once did,” said Kwiatkowski.
Even though both the defense and the prosecution recommended only a sentence of probation, Federal Judge William Skretny said this issue is broader than the charge and that these are difficult times. “The Community’s respect for the law has been eroded,” said Judge Skretny. “There has to be punishment. There has to be justice for all.”
Kwitakowski has 14 days to appeal and then is expected to turn himself in to begin the four month jail sentence.