Jun 13


Double trouble involving Buffalo cop

Kiam Gunn had an arrest record before he was hired as a police officer. He's been the subject of several complaints since joining the force and served a 45 day suspension involving drugs and a weapon.

A Buffalo Police vehicle parked on Niagara Street. Photo by Garrett Looker.

Buffalo Police Officer Kiam Gunn knows the law from both sides of the badge.

Before becoming a cop in 2018, Gunn, 44, was arrested at least five times on charges ranging from drug possession to assault.

He’s also gotten in trouble while a police officer.

During his six years on the force, Gunn has been the target of six internal affairs complaints. Two were upheld, resulting in discipline.

Gunn was suspended without pay for 45 days in May 2022, after witnesses reported seeing him smoke marijuana at Delaware Park basketball courts and display a pistol when someone asked him not to smoke pot near children.

In 2021, a deputy police commissioner counseled Gunn after he went to an auto repair shop while on duty and complained about work performed on his mother’s car. Employees said that he cursed and made threats, with one complainant saying that he smelled like marijuana.

Two women have accused Gunn of making unexpected romantic advances after they called police for help. A lawsuit against him filed by one of the women is pending in Buffalo City Court. The plaintiff says Gunn wrote his phone number on a card where a police report number should have been written, then gave it to her. He followed up with an unsolicited text message, she said.

Gunn is assigned to E District, which includes much of the East Side. He earned $88,650 last year and has been paid $99,090 so far this fiscal year, which ends on June 30, according to city payroll records.

Gunn did not respond to requests for an interview. Nor did Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, Michael DeGeorge, spokesman for the department, or John Evans, president of the Police Benevolent Association.

A history of arrests

In 1997, Gunn, then 17, was one of four people charged with first-degree gang assault and second-degree assault in the beating of a South Buffalo man.

The victim, who was knocked unconscious and hospitalized, told police that he was with about 20 friends at a carnival when someone spotted four males who’d recently beaten up a friend. After the victim and his friends “started to make statements” to Gunn and his companions, one of them hit his brother with a bottle, according to a police report that includes a summary of the victim’s statement to police. The victim said someone else hit him in the head with a stick and began punching and kicking him.

The district attorney’s office dismissed all charges against Gunn within two months. There are no records of the case in Buffalo City Court or Erie County Supreme Court.

In 2010, Lackawanna police arrested Gunn while serving search warrants at four addresses following a yearlong drug-trafficking investigation, according to a Lackawanna police report and a Buffalo News story.

Gunn, who lived at an apartment where Lackawanna police served a warrant with the help of a Buffalo Police Department SWAT team, was charged with marijuana possession, a violation, and misdemeanor possession of a prescription painkiller.

“Officers did locate hydrocodone pills, loose and bagged marihuana along with packaging material for narcotics littered the residence,” a Lackawanna officer wrote in a report documenting Gunn’s arrest.

According to the police report, Gunn was released after receiving an appearance ticket. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct, according to records in Lackawanna City Court.

Gunn also was booked into jail in 2002 after being arrested by Buffalo police and in 2004 after an arrest by Lackawanna police, according to the Erie County sheriff’s department, which refused to release booking charges.

A request to Buffalo police for records on Gunn’s 2002 arrest is pending. Records on Gunn’s 2004 arrest are sealed, according to the Lackawanna city clerk’s office.

Buffalo police arrested Gunn in 2012 after pulling him over for a broken headlight and finding marijuana in the car, according to a police report that also shows Gunn’s license was suspended. He was given an appearance ticket. Records in the Erie County clerk’s office and Buffalo City Court show that he still owes a $120 fine for marijuana possession.

Trouble as a cop

Gunn, hired in 2018 according to police records, was named officer of the month in the summer of 2020 by the department’s crisis intervention team, which helps handle calls involving mentally disturbed people.

“Officer Gunn has demonstrated compassion on the calls he goes on,” read a blurb in a department newsletter.

Gunn has another side, according to police reports, media accounts, court documents and internal affairs files.

The Buffalo Police Department has sustained at least two of six complaints against Gunn during his six years on the force, meaning investigators determined allegations against him were true.

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The first complaint came in 2021, the most recent in 2023.

The complaint that drew the harshest punishment, a 45-day unpaid suspension, was filed in 2022.

Gunn was off duty and playing basketball at Delaware Park. A woman, her boyfriend and a woman who knew the couple said that he was smoking marijuana near the couple’s children. The boyfriend asked Gunn to not smoke around kids.

“I could ruin your day,” Gunn responded, according to the three witnesses whose statements were summarized in internal affairs files and police reports.

Gunn then walked to a parked Cadillac and retrieved something, according to police reports and internal affairs files. The two women said they couldn’t see what Gunn got from the car. The boyfriend told investigators he saw a pistol. When Gunn returned, he pulled his shirt up to reveal a handgun tucked in his waistband, the two women told police.

Both women said that Gunn had intentionally lifted his shirt to display the gun. The friend said that Gunn looked at the boyfriend as he displayed the weapon. Her friend told investigators that Gunn was trying to intimidate her. After taking her kids to her car, the woman who’d been at the park with her boyfriend called 911.

Gunn was immediately suspended and ultimately received a 45-day unpaid suspension. Police referred the case to the district attorney. No charges were filed.

“A review by our office determined that Gunn, who was off-duty at the time of the alleged incident, did not display the legally owned weapon,” Kait Munro, district attorney spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “Therefore, no charges were filed as no crime was committed.”

Gunn denied that he’d been smoking pot and told internal affairs that he never spoke with the woman who called 911. He said that he always takes his gun when he plays basketball and told an officer on the scene that he considered himself a protector. He acknowledged that someone might have seen his pistol, according to a police report.

“Stated he had no idea who called on him and stated he had no issues or negative encounters with anyone,” an internal affairs investigator wrote in a summary of Gunn’s statement to police. “Stated his dry fit shirt tends to ride up his torso and he has to frequently pull it down so his weapon is hidden.”

In a summary of his interview with Gunn, the investigator noted an inconsistency. Gunn, the investigator wrote, initially said that he hadn’t gone to his car from the courts before police arrived, then said that he had made the trip to put a basketball away.

A profane outburst

In 2021, Gunn was counseled by a deputy commissioner, the lowest possible punishment, after the department found that he’d cursed and threatened employees at an auto repair shop while on duty.

Employees called 911 when Gunn, in uniform, showed up in a patrol vehicle. Yelling and dropping an f-bomb at least once, he accused the shop of performing unnecessary work on his mother’s car, according to internal affairs files.

“Stated the subject officer [Gunn] continually yelled and screamed at [redacted] and even smelled like marihuana,” an internal affairs officer wrote in a summary of a statement given by someone from the shop. “Stated the subject officer stated he would return once his shift ended at which time there would be ‘hell to pay.’ ”

Employees were concerned enough that they closed early. Internal affairs files show Gunn returned to the shop in personal vehicle and street clothes, but did not go inside. The incident was recorded by someone, according to an email from Lt. Michael J. Alberti of internal affairs to Deputy Police Commissioner Barbara Lark, who decided that she would handle the incident by counseling Gunn.

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The outburst came six weeks after a woman complained that Gunn had broken a promise to turn off his body camera while she gave him information about a shooting. She also said that the suspected shooter had sent her an Instagram message, saying that Gunn was her cousin, that he’d told her that the complainant had accused her of being the shooter and that there was body-camera audio.

Gunn told investigators that he’d never heard of the woman who was purportedly his cousin. He said that his body camera was on when he spoke with the complainant, but when he tried to retrieve footage, there was none. Gunn blamed an “unknown error” in a written statement to superiors. According to internal affairs files, no footage had been saved for his entire shift that day.

Internal affairs leveled three charges against Gunn, all related to failure to activate his body camera.

Former Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood determined there was insufficient evidence to prove or disprove an unspecified charge of misconduct, according to an internal affairs file. However, a disciplinary history attached to the complaint about the Delaware Park incident shows that a misconduct charge was upheld, and that Lark counseled him the same day that she spoke with him about his outburst at the auto repair shop.

“He’s a scammer”

Two women, including one who has a pending lawsuit against Gunn, say that he made romantic advances after they summoned police for help.

Rose Brown says she called police in 2022, seeking help in retrieving belongings from the apartment of her recently deceased fiancé. Gunn, who responded to the call, wrote his phone number on a card where officers write incident reports and sent a text the next day, according to Brown’s lawsuit:

“This is what he texts me,” Brown said.

“He’s not supposed to do that on duty. I just lost my fiancé. That’s not right. That’s disrespect.”

Rose Brown. Video by Garrett Looker.

In her lawsuit, Brown says she was “emotionally distraught” over her fiance’s death and that Gunn’s actions caused “severe mental distress.” She’s seeking $15,000. Gunn has not filed a response to the lawsuit.

Brown told Investigative Post that she complained to an officer at E District headquarters and showed her the text message.

“She screen-shotted that,” Brown said. “I ain’t ever heard nothing back.”

Gunn’s alleged encounter with Brown wasn’t the only time he texted a woman he met on duty, according to Iesha Richardson.

Gunn responded to a 2020 domestic violence incident at her house, Richardson said. The next day, she said, he sent her a text.

“I didn’t expect it,” Richardson said. “He asked, ‘Am I single, or is your friend single?’ He said, ‘Which one of you all are single?’”

Two or three days later, Richardson said that she told Gunn she needed a car.

“He got to saying, ‘I’ve got a car lot, I can go to the auction and get you this and this and that,’” Richardson said. “He said, ‘I’m a cop. I ain’t going to rob you. You can trust me.’ ”

Richardson gave Gunn a $3,500 deposit, but the car he bought had more miles on it than she expected, according to an internal affairs file. Gunn refused to return her deposit after she wouldn’t take the car, according to the file. Then he sued her in small claims court, demanding an additional $5,000.

“He’s a thief, he’s a stealer, he’s a scammer,” Richardson said. “This man took all my money from me, it was all I had left.”

Gunn has not been charged with a crime. Richardson said she was initially frightened to file a complaint with police. She said she worried that she might be pulled over and falsely accused of doing something wrong.

“I felt hopeless,” she said. “They had me scared: Don’t go after no police officer. Even my mom was, ‘Iesha, leave it alone.’ ”

Richardson filed an internal affairs complaint in 2022, shortly after Gunn sued her. Handwritten notes in the internal affairs file show that she told an investigator that she knew Gunn from a call for service to her home involving a domestic incident and that he texted her the next day and that he asked if she was single.

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More than five months after Richardson complained, Gramaglia, the police commissioner, determined that her complaint was unfounded.

“Pertains to a business transaction, determined to be civil in nature,” reads an unsigned notation in Gunn’s disciplinary file.

Less than a month after Gramaglia rejected her complaint, Richardson won a $3,600 counterclaim when Gunn didn’t appear in small-claims court. Last summer, she obtained a garnishment order, with the city ordered to deduct money from Gunn’s pay until Richardson is made whole.

Richardson said she hasn’t seen a penny.

Cleared in other cases

In two other instances, the department found no fault with Gunn’s actions.

A real-estate agent complained that Gunn, while off duty, pointed a gun at her, another real-estate agent and two prospective buyers while they were walking through a rental home that was for sale.

The home, which Gunn shared with his girlfriend, was empty but a door was unlocked when the complainant and three others accompanying her arrived. The complainant said she called the property owner, who told her, and later an internal affairs investigator, that prior arrangements had been made with Gunn’s girlfriend for a home tour and that the real-estate agents and potential buyers could go inside.

Gunn arrived at the house after the tour started. Pistol drawn and pointed, he confronted the complainant and those accompanying her as they walked down a staircase, according to internal affairs files. He was cursing, the complainant told an investigator.

“[The complainant] stated she put herself between Officer Gunn and the rest of the party, hoping that her familiarity with Officer Gunn would de-escalate the situation,” an investigator wrote in a summary of the internal affairs investigation. “Even as she attempted to explain the situation and reason with Officer Gunn, he continued to point his weapon and ordered them to leave the home.”

Two of the three people who were with the complainant gave matching accounts, according to an internal affairs file. A third said that Gunn lowered his gun when he recognized the complainant, who called 911.

Gunn, who was gone when police arrived, told an internal affairs investigator that kids had recently burglarized the house and he thought that they might have returned. Gunn told the investigator that he drew his pistol when he saw someone walking down the staircase, but holstered the weapon when they identified themselves as real-estate agents. He said no arrangements had been made for anyone to walk through the house and that he ordered everyone to leave.

Gramaglia exonerated Gunn, meaning that he found no wrongdoing.

The department also exonerated Gunn last year after a man complained that the officer kicked down his door and ordered him out of his apartment. Gunn was accompanied by the property owner, who filed a police report, saying that locks had been changed and the man was a squatter. 

“He was assisting a landlord with the information that was available to him,” an internal affairs inspector wrote in an email to a colleague instructing her to close the case.

Investigative Post

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