Conductors Union Calls for Firing, Arrest of MTA Cops, Citing Police Brutality

Metro-North’s biggest union is calling for the arrest of two MTA police officers who accused a conductor of assaulting them last week, claiming a surveillance video shows the officers tackling the conductor to the ground in a clear-cut case of police brutality, The Journal News/lohud.com has learned.

In a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, Anthony Aprea, the executive director of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, said conductor Thomas Moran was attacked by the officers while trying to have a passenger removed from a train at Grand Central Terminal.

“The assault and arrest of Conductor Tom Moran on Friday August 4, by the MTA police were nothing short of police brutality, abuse of authority and lack of professionalism at its worst,” Aprea writes.

“Conductor Moran is not a criminal, nor was he the subject of any police investigation and never before was there any assertion that he had violated any laws,” the letter adds. “In the course of a normal work day, he sought to uphold the operating rules set by Metro-North Railroad – he made a professional assessment to ensure the safety of the train’s ridership.”

Moran, 48, of Cheshire, Conn., was charged with second-degree assault and resisting arrest. He is due back in court Sept. 27.

MTA police say the officers interceded after Moran refused a customer’s request to have the northbound train stop at 125th Street in Harlem. The train only picks up passengers at 125th Street. They say Moran refused to show the officers his identification card and walked away, “flailing his arms” and knocking officers to the ground.

But Aprea, whose union represents Moran, said he was allowed to view the video and says the officers were the aggressors.

“Their take on what happened is grossly inaccurate,” Aprea said. “He (Moran) was walking back to the train and for no reason they attacked him. He didn’t confront the police at all. He stood still. He did not flail his arms.”

Aprea said Moran tried to enlist the police officers’ help in removing the man from the train because he was intoxicated and demanded to go to 125th Street in Harlem.

“Tom realized he was beyond intoxicated…When they (the police) didn’t help he went to the trainmaster’s office and returned to the platform,” Aprea said. “It’s just sad that a hard-working man goes to work and during the course of his duties he’s attacked by the MTA Police.”

Moran’s attorney, Jeffrey Chartier, said he will ask Manhattan prosecutors to drop charges against his client. “It’s (the video) not consistent with the version put forth by the MTA police,” Chartier said. “It fully supports Thomas Moran.”

In an Aug. 8 letter to Aprea obtained by The Journal News/lohud.com, Michael O’Meara, the head of MTA’s Police Benevolent Association, defended the officers and suggested Aprea’s letter crossed the line.

“Your broad unfounded characterizations of the members of my union is truly unwarranted and frankly unethical coming from a union representative,” O’Meara writes.

“The courts will decide whether or not the police acted properly, not you,” O’Meara added. “There is no criminal conspiracy to cover up anything and there is no need to hide any of the facts, as they are backed up by police and non-police personnel at the scene.”

In an interview, O’Meara said he wrote to Aprea because he took issue with his comments.

“He pretty much condemned my entire department and I thought that was inappropriate,” O’Meara said. “I have nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women of Metro-North railroad and ACRE.”

In addition to the firing and arrest of the officers, Aprea called on Lhota to release the video publicly.

“The time has come for the MTA to define and account for its moral principles,” Aprea said. “Right now the workplace environment is unsafe for all employees. ACRE leadership is currently assessing how to improve the safety in the rail system, protecting our members from MTA police brutality.”

“The incident is under internal review,” said MTA spokesman Shams Tarek.

ACRE executive director James Fahey said he, too, was given permission to view the video and said he saw police dogs brought in to assist the MTA police with Moran’s arrest.

“What disturbed me most was when they brought in the police dog,” Fahey said. “I viewed the tape and saw the police dog barking in his face, which was totally unprofessional. Now that the facts are in I believe all charges should be dropped immediately. In every union, you have 5 percent who abuse their positions and I think that’s what happened here.”

Source: http://www.lohud.com

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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