February 1, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 17°F


Police brutality case moves to federal court

An Ithaca Police Department abuse and discrimination case involving Ithaca resident Amy Crockford, has been moved from the New York State Supreme Court in Tompkins County to U.S. Federal District Court in Syracuse, according to court reports.

Ithaca Police officers Stephen Moracco and Jason Lansing, the City of Ithaca, the Ithaca Police Department and Chief of Police Edward Vallely requested the case be moved to the federal court, according to U.S. Federal District court documents.

Moracco arrested Crockford in May 2009 for disorderly conduct outside the State Diner in Ithaca. The charges against her were later dropped.

Crockford, 37, claims that Moracco intentionally injured her and taunted her based on her sexual orientation while she was in the back of his squad car. She asserted assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress as a few claims against the defendants in her report.

Crockford said when she was brought to the station she sought help from Lansing. When she tried to explain how she was injured when Moracco slammed on the brakes, Lansing said Moracco was “probably trying to avoid a deer,” according to the complaint she filed.

Crockford also said the City of Ithaca and Chief Vallely failed to “adequately train, supervise, discipline or in any other way control the behavior of the defendants in the exercise of their police functions,” in the report.

The defendants denied all of Crockford’s claims.

Because Crockford’s complaint involves violations of federal civil rights law, and because “the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $75,000,” the City of Ithaca and the defendants in the case have the right to move the case to federal court, Syracuse-based attorney David Twichell said in court documents.

Joanne Bleskoski, deputy clerk and data quality analyst for the United States District Court-Northern District of New York said the filing fees have been paid for the case and that it’s still in its infancy stages.

“They’re still waiting to hear who’s going to represent the defendants when it takes place before the magistrate on Nov. 30,” she said.

District Court Judge, Andrew Baxter will oversee the case and a preliminary conference will take place at 10 a.m. Nov. 30 at the U.S. Federal District Court in Syracuse.

Crockford said she does not mind that the case will take place in Syracuse as opposed to Tompkins County — the only problem is the distance.

“It doesn’t matter what forum it occurs in, I look forward to the day in court,” she said. “It’s just an inconvenience to drive to Syracuse.”

The Ithaca Police Department declined to comment on the case.