Buffalo, NY — Officer discretion allows cops some leeway on which they can rely as they make choices that impact the people they are policing. If they see a family who may be struggling to put food on the table, a cop can choose not to extort them for some arbitrary violation like window tint. All too often, however, cops do not use this discretion and will escalate force and kidnap people over the most mundane infractions, up to and including, improperly crossing the street. Unless of course, you are a judge.
One act of officer discretion is getting some much deserved scrutiny this week because anyone who is not a judge would have been arrested for what this man did. If the average Joe, interacting with cops, would attack one of those officers, rest assured that they would be arrested and most likely be severely beaten. That is, of course, unless you are New York State Supreme Court Judge Mark Grisanti.
Video from Grisanti's interaction with police back in June has been released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request this week and it has civil rights groups outraged, and rightfully so.
According to WGRZ, the incident stems from a neighbor dispute earlier this summer. The dispute was over a parked vehicle that was allegedly blocking part of Grisanti's driveway.
As the video shows, this Supreme Court judge is in a torn shirt and is irate with police. His wife is also irate and both of them appear to think they are above the law. They would both later prove this notion.
For some reason, police attempt to detain Grisanti's wife and put her in handcuffs. However, she was not having it and began fighting back. When Grisanti saw his wife struggling with officers, he moved in and attacked one of them before being pulled off and handcuffed.
We have seen innocent people killed for less than what Grisanti did in the video below, yet after things calmed down, he and his wife were uncuffed and no charges were filed against them.
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When asked by reporters why Grisanti was not arrested for felony assault on a police officer, the Buffalo police department claimed that the '"officer used his discretion." How convenient for Grisanti.
While officers choosing not to arrest people for things like this is not necessarily a bad thing, had Grisanti been a person of color or someone who wasn't a member of the ruling class, rest assured he would have been pepper sprayed, tasered, or possibly even shot before he was dragged off to jail, facing the possibility of 15 years behind bars.
Amazingly enough, the judge's lawyer, Leonard Zaccagnino, justified the judge's actions and said he had every right to step in to help his wife.
"In hindsight, you know he sees his wife being taken down to the ground," Zaccagnino said. "He just put his hand up. I didn't see a punch there."
Sounds reasonable enough, but again, the average person would never be allowed to get away with it.
Over the years, TFTP has reported on numerous incidents in which people have stepped in to stop police from beating a loved one. Never have we seen those people be let off without charges because we have never seen a judge be the one to step in.
What this incident highlights is the fact that there are two justice systems in the land of the free. One system is designed to protect those who serve it and profit from it, along with their family members and friends. And then there is one for everyone else.