Justice prevails. Silvon Simmons had been in jail for 18 months because of the zealous and wrong actions of Rochester Police Department officer Joseph Ferrigno. On April 1, 2016 Ferrigno misidentified the car Simmons’ was riding in, followed it to his home without lights or sirens, threw a spot light at the windshield of the car, jumped out with his gun drawn and pursued Simmons, who also ran when he saw the shadow of Ferrigno with his gun drawn, and ended up shooting Simmons the back three times. Ferrigno claimed Simmons shot at him even though there was no corroborating physical evidence except for a gun that had no finger prints, DNA, and was in lock back mode (no projectile was found and no powder burn analysis was conducted on Simmons’ clothes). Simmons was finally spared from this grotesque criminal justice system after a jury acquitted him of the most serious charges: attempted murder of a police officer and attempted assault of the police officer. Months later, Judge Christopher S. Ciaccio set aside the jury verdict that Simmons was guilty of criminal possession of a weapons because the evidence used to convict him of the charge, an 8 second audio clip from ShotSpotter, was scientifically unreliable. Simmons is currently suing the City of Rochester.
Judge Ciaccio rebuked the Rochester Police Department with his decision to overturn Simmons’ conviction, rejecting the sloppy testimony from RPD officers during the case. Read Gary Craig’s indispensable reporting on Silvon’s Case; from the court proceedings where the prosecution presented dubious Shot Spotter evidence, to Judge Ciaccio overturning the verdict.
This case highlights the deep issues with criminal justice in Rochester, NY. Silvon shouldn’t ever have been misidentified, pursued, and shot by the notoriously unfit-for-the-badge Joseph “Joey” Ferrigno. Where’s the accountability RPD? CRB? PSS? Mayor’s office? Council? Why is Ferrigno with 23 excessive use of force complaints still employed by this department? It’s a rhetorical question in some regards.
After the judge’s decision, Joe Ferrigno Sr. walked up behind Charles Burkwit, Silvon’s civil attorney, shoved him and called him a “piece of shit” and an “ambulance chaser.” He leaned over and looked at Silvon and called him a “piece of garbage.” Meanwhile, Ferrigno looked at Silvon and said “You’re lucky, next time we’ll come harder.” Chief of Police Michael Ciminelli was in the crowd of nearly 8 rows of uniformed police as was Michael Mazzeo, police union president. After these comments were made, the blue gang got up and left the court and went back to their building. No one was held accountable for their threats.
(photo from Tina MacIntyre-Yee)