May 18, 2009

Please Pray for my Nephew!

After a year of traveling back and forth to Cleveland, my nephew still hasn't been cleared from the ridiculous court system in Cleveland. Today, his situation appeared in the Buffalo News and I am asking for prayer for my nephew and his family. I know that God is for him, his family and the enemy has had a hay day with their lives. No more. I would ask that you agree with me for God's perfect will to be done in Tony's life, his dad-my brother, and their family. I am asking for justice to be served and for Tony to be exonerated.
Here is a copy of the article:

Baseball fan in endless extra innings with law
Cleveland visit in ’08 turns into nightmare after police incident
By Gene Warner
Anthony M. Bell says he and his family have endured a year of pure misery since the night he attended a Cleveland Indians game against the New York Yankees in April 2008.
Bell, who lives in Derby, spent three days in a Cleveland jail. He suffered partial nerve damage in his thumb. He was charged with felony assault of a police officer. He has made about 10 trips back to Cleveland for court appearances. And he has paid $21,000 to an attorney who has since dropped his case.
Bell, 23, contends that he did nothing wrong other than try to break up what he thought was a fight between his friend and some fans who were upset with his friend’s behavior at the end of the game.
“All I did was stick my arms out and get involved, just helping a friend,” he said. “That’s all I did.”
While Cleveland police have a different version of the events on the night of April 26, 2008, Bell refuses to back down. He’s taking his case public. And he’s armed with a report showing that the police lieutenant he supposedly assaulted has a documented history of using force while making arrests. That report says that the lieutenant recorded more “uses of force” than he has arrests over a 3 1/2-year period.
“I just want justice,” Bell said in a recent interview. “I would plead to absolutely nothing. I’m not the person at fault. I went to a baseball game to have fun, and I paid $21,000 and spent three days in jail, all to help my friend.”
On April 26 of last year, Bell, then a big fan of the Indians, went to the Yankees-Indians game with his best friend, Brian Wisniewski, and Wisniewski’s brother, James.
When the Yankees tied the game at 3 in the sixth inning, James Wisniewski, a Yankees fan, cheered loudly and began engaging in a brief dispute with two fans in front of the Buffalo group. A security guard in a yellow jacket later showed up and told James Wisniewski to come with him. Wisniewski refused, so the security officer grabbed him by the arm and escorted him from the stands.
His brother and Bell followed. “We got outside, and, all of a sudden, somebody in a white shirt came up and grabbed Brian,” Bell said. “I saw his right sleeve come over my left shoulder.
“I thought it was one of the two fans. I stepped between them and put my arms out to keep them apart and keep the peace. . . . I pushed the person with my forearm slightly in the upper-middle back to get him away from Brian.”
Bell later learned that the man in the white shirt, who never identified himself at the beginning of the incident, was an off-duty Cleveland police officer. That officer, along with one or two other officers, dragged Bell to the ground, where, he said, he was punched in the kidney and stomach a few times and kneed in the head.
"I was held on the ground for 10 seconds, maybe 15 seconds, with a knee pressed to my head,” Bell said. “I kept yelling, ‘I’m being compliant. I’m being compliant.’ Whenever I said I was being compliant, he pushed harder [with his knee].”
Then as he was handcuffed and being taken to the cell inside Progressive Field, Bell said a couple of things that, in hindsight, he regrets.
“What are you, the [blanking] Cleveland police?” he asked.
“Yeah, you’re going to find out the hard way,” one of the officers replied, according to Bell.
Bell, who was 22 at the time, said he also threatened to sue the Cleveland police, a threat that he thinks led officers to increase the charges against him.
He later said he was called multiple obscenities, thrown hard against a concrete wall and then had a piece of metal pressed hard into the base of his thumb, leaving him with what he said was partial nerve damage.
While Bell was in the jail cell, he said, one of the police officers turned to him and said, “We got you reaching for the gun. That’s one to three years.”
Bell spent 2 1/2 days in jail, charged with assault on a police officer, robbery and resisting arrest.
He considers the charges absurd, saying that he never harmed anyone and that he only slightly nudged one person with his arm. He bristles at the accusation that he reached for the officer’s gun.
“I’ve never shot or held a gun before, so why would I try to do that? That’s ridiculous,” Bell said. “I have no violent past at all, and the last thing in the world I’m going to do is pick a fight with an officer.”
The police version
Cleveland police reports provide another version. Officers say they were working “authorized secondary employment” at Progressive Field when they escorted three unruly fans from the game after the final out.
One of the three, apparently James Wisniewski, was accused of shouting obscenities and threats at the officers. One of the officers, Lt. Timothy Gaertner, advised the man that he was under arrest and grabbed him by the shirt as he attempted to run away, according to the police report.
“It was at this time that another male, later identified as Anthony Bell, grabbed Lt. Gaertner by the shirt and then punched him in the face,” the police report states.
After Gaertner struck Bell in self-defense, according to the police report, “Bell then grabbed Lt. Gaertner’s handgun and tried to pull it out of his holster causing his belt to break.”
After James Wisniewski was accused of kneeing Gaertner in the ribs, Bell continued to fight with Gaertner, until another off-duty officer helped the lieutenant handcuff Bell, according to the police report.
Gaertner was treated by Cleveland Clinic medics at the scene for bruised ribs and scrapes to his knees and elbows.
Bell, listed as 5-feet-9 and 130 pounds, suffered minor injuries, according to the police report.
Cleveland police said they would let the criminal-justice system determine who’s right.
“There’s a court system, and any defendant will be afforded his due-process rights,” said Lt. Thomas Stacho, public information officer for the Cleveland police. “We’ll let it go through the courts and let the courts decide [the defendant’s] guilt or innocence.”
Asked about the incident itself, Stacho said, “I can’t speak to it.”
Newspaper gives data
Unraveling who’s telling the truth is difficult.
The Bells have received a copy of a DVD of the surveillance footage of the incident. The footage is pixilated, and some of the grappling is blocked from the eye of the camera, making it difficult to see exactly what happened.
The DVD does show that when the lieutenant approached him, Bell reached out, before they began wrestling. But it’s impossible to determine whose version of events is more accurate, Bell’s or the police officers’.
Bell does have one strong argument that could be used against the police lieutenant, however. The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper compiled a database of Cleveland police officers and their use of force from Jan. 1, 2003, to Sept. 9, 2006.
The database, which runs 25 pages, lists almost 900 police officers, with the number of arrests they made over that period and the number of times nondeadly force was used. Another column then lists the “uses of force per arrest.”
One officer, for example, has 18 uses of force out of 611 arrests, or about 3 percent in the column “uses of force per arrest.” For an overwhelming majority of officers, the figures are below 10 percent.
Gaertner, the lieutenant accusing Bell, had 27 uses of force out of 24 arrests, or 113 percent, according to the data. That’s presumably because an officer can be accused of using force without making an arrest or using force more than once during a single arrest.
Only three other officers had figures above 100 percent, and none had more than two arrests.
“This guy’s known for excessive force,” said Dwayne M. Bell, father of Anthony. “For him to go out and be grabbing someone without identifying himself as a police officer, that’s not a good cop. There’s no other way to look at it. And the police report is a joke.”
Attorney withdraws
So if Anthony Bell was wrongly accused and the victim of an overzealous police officer, why can’t he prove his innocence in court?
Only time will tell. The case has dragged on for more than a year.
The Bells say they paid their former attorney, William L. Summers, a total of $21,086 before he withdrew from the case, telling the Bells that he couldn’t do his job properly because Dwayne Bell kept questioning his tactics.
A private investigator also has told the family that Summers knows someone in the police lieutenant’s family.
Summers could not be reached to comment late last week.
A public defender now represents Anthony Bell, and his trial could start as early as today.
In the efforts to settle this case, it will be approximately his 11th trip back to Cleveland.


jené said...

of course I will keep him in prayer, you too. it is so hard to see those we love in hurtful situations where we can offer no remedy. find peace in resting in God's love, praying in Houston.

Freedom in the Dance said...

Thank you so much. I know God has been building character in my brother through this and when I was in Buffalo a few weeks ago, I encouraged my nephew to believe, trust and to READ HIS BIBLE!
Nothing escapes Daddy's eyes, and I know that He is faithful to perfect that which concerns my family...yet, it is challenging to be here and not see him face to face.
Thanks again.

Caroline said...

Oh Daune- this is terrible. I am praying that justice will prevail. Your nephew is very brave.

melissa said...

my friend that is just awful! i'll be praying for him.

Anonymous said...

This is Tony's Dad,when we go back on the 15th we are bringing 35 photos blown up to 28x21 inches and giving our public defender the tools to defeat this serpent under our feet.

Freedom in the Dance said...

I am so glad you've taken such an aggressive approach to delivering your son...can you imagine the lengths God went to in order to deliver you and all of us?!
I love you and will continue to pray.

Freedom in the Dance said...

Dwayne...Don't let the enemy's intimidation throw you...he knows you have his number and is now trying to get you to give him your joy...don't do it!
I am so proud of you for taking this deserve the greatest father's day award ever!
Love you, bro!


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