Officer in videotaped beating will take a plea

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – News 4 Investigates has learned that the Buffalo Police officer seen on a cell phone video slapping and kicking John Willet is expected to accept a plea agreement.

Sources are telling News 4 that Officer John Cirulli is scheduled to appear in Federal Court Friday in a plea proceeding involving two misdemeanor level offenses.

The video shows Willet in handcuffs, face down on the ground on Ontario Street. It was April 19 when he appeared to have been struck by Cirulli. Willet told News Four about a week after the incident, how he begged the officer to stop, and now that the officer is actually pleading to charges.

Willet’s Attorney Phillip Dabney says his client was surprised to hear about the plans for a plea. “I think it’s the appropriate outcome under the circumstances. What I’ve always said is the video speaks for itself.”

Police have said before that before the video started, Willet fought and struggled with officers and had to be forcibly subdued and handcuffed.
Five other officers seen in the video remain on paid administrative leave.

According to a law enforcement source, any plea agreement would involve Cirulli resigning from the police department.
Another officer who worked with him for years says what is seen in the video is very out of character for John Cirulli.

“The law enforcement end of Buffalo Police Department, they have a very difficult job.” said Dabney “It’s just a situation where you have an officer who excercized poor judgement.”

The Buffalo Police Internal Affairs Division continues to investigate the role of the five other officers seen in the video. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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