Jul 1


Vulgar insult by cop only the half of it

It's becoming more evident that Buffalo police mishandled several aspects of a situation Sunday that resulted in a lieutenant getting suspended for a misogynist slur

Further details about the incident Sunday in which a Buffalo police lieutenant verbally accosted a woman suggest police didn’t know how to properly handle a mentally ill man or the woman who taped the episode.

The incident, which resulted in Lieutenant Michael DeLong getting suspended without pay for calling Ruweyda Salim a “disrespectful little fucking cunt” began at the home of Monica Lynch, whose son was subject of police attention at a 7-Eleven convenience store.

Lynch said she was shocked to hear police tell Salim on the video that her son attacked her before police encountered him Sunday evening at the store on Prospect Avenue near D’Youville College. 

“He didn’t attack me,” Lynch said. “He may have been trying to do that. He came here and was banging on the door, but I didn’t open the door. He’s never had physical contact on me.”  

Eric, 23, has psychosis as well as several other mental illnesses and a substance abuse disorder, Lynch said. He has a twin brother, Bernard, who has the same mental health diseases, she said. 

For almost seven years, Lynch has been trying to get them into a treatment facility.  

“People like my sons have a problem with the police department,” Lynch said. “I don’t want my kids to end up in jail or dead.”

She said her boys are known to B District police officers; they’ve responded to her house “almost 30 times already this year” because of issues she has had with her son. She said they’ve never been violent; she just wants to get them into the Erie County Medical Center mental health ward so they can be evaluated and treated. 

She has filed a number of complaints with the Internal Affairs department because of the ways her sons have been treated during those police encounters, she said. 

“They just always go overboard with every response,” said Lynch, who said police have referred to both of her boys as “retards” and “crackheads.” 

“The police need to be out doing their jobs to protect and serve the community. But they need to get more training for how to talk to and work with the community they’re serving.” 

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Salim, who filmed Eric’s interaction with police, was struck by the response, as well. That’s why she pulled out her cell phone to record the incident.

“In that moment, that man was not dangerous,” said Salim, who was told by police she was upsetting Eric, who was found with two crack pipes in his pockets. 

“When a white person is on drugs, it’s a health issue; when a black or brown person is on drugs, they criminalize him.” 

Salim, 25, a claims examiner for the Veterans Administration, told Investigative Post she was preparing to drive away from the store when she saw five officers approaching Eric, who she described as “distressed.” She said she began telling him he didn’t have to talk with police. 

“DeLong came out of nowhere and came directly toward me and shoved his [body] camera at me,” Salim said. “I was immediately taken aback and asked for personal space, but he was shoving his body against mine. I kept on recording because he was trying to agitate me.”

In the video, DeLong tells Salim to “move me.” 

“I have a grown man trying to bully me and I keep having flashbacks of his encounter with me,” she said. “I felt so violated in that he took my autonomy away from me because he was bigger and more powerful than me.”

As seen in the video, distributed on social media, DeLong didn’t stop by telling Salim to move him. He went on to call her a “disrespectful little fucking cunt.” And after Salim told him the video was going to go viral, DeLong responded: “I don’t care if I go viral.” Less than a day after making that comment, the video has been seen by more than 88,000 people on Twitter. 

DeLong, a 20-year veteran, has been suspended without pay from his job. This is not his first suspension; sources have confirmed he was suspended in 2014 after his arrest on domestic violence charges. Details of the incident are unclear.

The video has generated national press coverage from outlets including TMZ and The Daily Beast. This follows international coverage of Buffalo police pushing and injuring Martin Gugino during a demonstration June 4 in front of City Hall.

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Salim’s interaction with DeLong went beyond the video.

Before leaving the convenience store parking lot, Salim said DeLong wrote down her license plate number and pulled her and her friend over a block-and-a-half away after they drove the wrong way down a one-way street. 

“We were frazzled and shaken up leaving,” Salim said. “When we turned down the one way street, he was there on the corner, maybe working patrol.”

She said DeLong didn’t make any further derogatory remarks toward her at that point, but the other officer with him asked why she and her friend were anti-police after her friend presented a military identification card.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown responded to the video Monday, saying most members of the department “are doing the right thing.”

“We want every officer to act like a community police officer,” Brown said at a press conference.  “We want every office to treat all people with respect and dignity. We didn’t see that with that video. It was a terrible disappointment.”

Since the video has been posted, Salim says she’s received messages from people vilifying her. 

“I didn’t break the law,” she said. “The whole issue of the matter is DeLong’s actions. What I did is my right and my civil liberty.”

Salim, who said she’s received hostile messages since posting her video, filed a complaint against DeLong with the Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit Tuesday.

As for Eric, the distressed man in the video, his mother told Investigative Post he was taken to ECMC, where he was treated and released. 

While this one incident was caught on camera, Lynch said she expects the next police response to be similar because she feels her complaints have remained unaddressed and her voice unheard for years.

“They never had a fair shot,” she said of her sons. “But this is my life. And every day, you wake up and explain [the world] to the boys and keep going. You have to keep going.”

Investigative Post

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