BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Though the death of 35-year-old Richard Metcalf, Jr. was ruled a homicide, no one will be held criminally responsible.
Following an independent investigation by State Police investigators, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita said no criminal charges will be filed in the November 2012 death of Metcalf. The Lancaster man’s parents believe their son was abused by Erie County Sheriff’s deputies while in the Holding Center.
Richard Metcalf, Sr. said in December of 2012, “My personal opinion is that he was severely beaten. There’s no other explanation. There’s no other logical explanation for that.”
Metcalf had been transferred to the Holding Center by Depew Police, who had arrested him for an alleged burglary. From the Holding Center, Metcalf was taken to the hospital, where he later died. Days after that, Metcalf’s death was ruled a homicide by the Erie County Medical Examiner.
Upon hearing that there would be no criminal prosecution, the man’s parents were “frustrated, disappointed, in pain emotionally and devastated,” according to the family’s attorney Thomas Casey.
The family has filed a civil lawsuit against Erie County, the sheriff’s office and nine deputies alleging Metcalf was “abused, beaten, and restrained” and that the alleged assault was “unprovoked.”
A couple of days before Metcalf’s arrest, his father said his son had been acting paranoid and afraid, and thought people were out to get him. Casey says Metcalf had to be subdued by Depew Police when he wouldn’t follow orders after being confronted during the alleged burglary.
Holding Center officials said Metcalf had become irrational and completely non-compliant.
In a December 11, 2012 interview with News 4, Holding Center Superintendent Thomas Diina said, “He was spitting blood at the officers as they were trying to deescalate the situation. It was reported that he was poking himself with a fork, raking his face across the bars in front of his cell in order to get his mouth bloody so that he could spit at the officers.”
But Casey says deputies went “over and above and beyond the normal protocol where they beat this poor young man literally to death.”
Casey stopped short of alleging a police cover-up.
“You hear people say, ‘the blue line of silence.’ I don’t know if that applies to this particular case, but it’s just human nature for someone to take the position, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’ My position is that they did, that they went over and above and beyond the normal protocol where they beat this poor young man literally to death,” Casey said.
Hey says there were no cameras installed or operating in the Holding Center gallery on that particular evening to demonstrate what exactly took place.
After issuing a statement that there would be no criminal charges filed, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita declined to be interviewed by News 4. New York State Police investigators said they also would have no comment on their investigation.