Beaver, PA — Beaver County resident, James Cicco has just settled a lawsuit against the Beaver Police Department claiming officers used excessive force. The incident was captured on dash cam and shows a graphic takedown of a non-threatening man who was brutally assaulted by police for no reason. Part of the attack happened after he was placed in handcuffs as well. Now the taxpayers will be held accountable—not the cops who did it.
As the Beaver Countian reports, federal court dockets show US District Court Judge Mark Hornak closed the case brought by James Edward Cicco against Beaver Borough on Thursday after parties reached a settlement agreement with the assistance of federal mediators.
An “investigation” by the Pennsylvania State Police claimed cops did nothing wrong when they unleashed the K9 on the handcuffed man.
Cicco told his lawyers he has been harassed by police in the past, so when Beaver Police Officer Jeffrey Wijnen-Riems attempted to pull over Cicco for a traffic violation in August of 2016, the man decided the best place to pull over would be at his home.
Cicco’s lawyer, Geraldo Benyo, told reporters it only took 13 seconds to pull over, and that his client was being compliant for the entire duration of the traffic stop which took a violent turn for the worst. Wijnen-Riems can be seen in the dash cam footage approaching Cicco’s car.
“The video does depict Mr. Cicco getting out of his vehicle with both hands palms out and raised and then he only retreats into his vehicle as officer releases the K-9,” Benyo explained.
He opened up Cicco’s car door and then began to attempt to extricate the man from his small SUV. However, we consulted with a close-quarters hand-to-hand combat expert who concluded Wijnen-Riems tactics were not standard procedure.
The officer can be seen placing Cicco in a painful wrist-lock which has the potential to break the man’s wrist. The patrolman then began cranking his arm behind his back, another move intended to either break the man’s arm or dislocate his shoulder.
According to our expert, at no time did the officer attempt to unbuckle Cicco’s seatbelt and drag him out of the car. It appears Cicco unbuckled his own seatbelt, at which time the officer then flung him to the ground.
Instead of placing the man in handcuffs, he went back to his vehicle and released his attack dog, a German-Shepherd. As Cicco sees the dog approaching, he jumped back into his car and shut the door, as anyone afraid of police attack dogs may do.
Once again, Officer Wijnen-Riems opened the car door, this time aided by his dog, who began to viciously attack him, biting him under the arm, in the armpit, exposing gaping wounds. He bit his back as well.
As the Beaver Countian reported in 2016, at the time of the incident, before the dash cam video was released, witnesses to the attack reported that the officers forced the dog to “eat” Cicco during the confrontation — after he was placed in handcuffs. In the video below, that is exactly what happens.
Wijen-Riems claimed he saw Cicco reaching for what he thought was a taser. However, that was not seen in the video, nor was he in possession of a taser.
The small-town police officer, who some are now calling a bully, then charged Cicco with multiple charges including fleeing and eluding and driving without a license. Cicco fought the charges and his case was brought to trial. None of the charges held and the entire attack was over a suspended license.
“This entire incident resulted over an aggressive police officer who was upset because on the way to non-emergency call Mr. Cicco didn’t get out of way fast enough,” Benyo said. The lawyer said his client’s fears of police brutality, “Turned out to be pretty accurate with having the fear.”
According to the Beaver Countian, terms of a settlement agreement ending Cicco’s federal lawsuit were not disclosed in court filings, but a source in Beaver Borough familiar with its provisions said the town’s insurance carrier paid out approximately $250,000 to end the litigation.
After obtaining the dashcam footage, the Beaver Countian also obtained audio of the officer’s call. In the audio, the cop is heard joking about the damage his dog inflicted on Cicco.