BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – There’s more trouble for the Buffalo Police Department. A Kenmore man has filed a notice of claim against the city, saying officers used excessive force against him.
The complaint was filed on June 11. In it, Christoper Kozak says he was seriously injured after he was assaulted by Buffalo Police officers outside a Chippewa Street bar.
A cell phone video of the alleged incident is the latest to once again put the Buffalo Police Department in hot water. The video shows 43-year-old Kozak walk outside of a bar, where he’s then tackled by several men who appear to be Buffalo Police officers.
Kozak and his attorney, Ronald Cercone, have filed a complaint against the City of Buffalo.
“Assault and excessive force, assault battery and excessive force against my client. I can not charge them with false arrest and malicious prosecution because they didn’t even charge my client,” said Cercone.
He says the attack happened on St. Patrick’s Day right outside Bottoms Up Bar on Chippewa. Kozak had just left the bar after witnessing a skirmish.
“He was not involved. He ended up walking outside of Bottoms Up, turning around looking for his girlfriend, as you can see from the video he was in a nonthreatening, non-worrisome manner as he walked out when he was bum rushed by the police,” said his attorney.
Cercone says Kozak frequented Bottoms Up because his brother owns a neighboring bar. He recognized the officer who wrapped his arm around his neck and took him down to the ground.
“My client knew Robert Eloff. He had actually worked security for my client’s brother at 67 West and at Bottoms Up so he was very familiar with him,” said Cercone.
If that name, Robert Eloff, sounds familiar it’s because we’ve told you about other complaints made against Eloff. He was working off-duty at Mollys Pub on May 11 the night a patron was shoved down the stairs and suffered a brain injury. Eloff is suspended while Buffalo Police investigate his conduct, including whether he attempted to destroy evidence.
Another incident involving Eloff allegedly happened at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, when a woman says Eloff stopped her from shooting video by knocking the phone from her hand.
Eloff isn’t named in this most recent claim, but Cercone says he will be named when they file suit.
Pictures Kozak took after the attack show bruises on his body and his face swollen and bleeding. His attorney says along with the physical pain, Kozak has been traumatized by the ordeal.
“He was tackled into the street by numerous officers, as you saw. He was grabbed from behind. He was kneed several times. He was not resisting arrest as you can see from that video. He never had a chance to do anything and he was never charged with any crime because he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Cercone.
It’s unclear if the officers were on-duty or off-duty. Cercone says if he can ID the other officers he expects to name them in the suit as well. Buffalo Police and Eloff’s attorney had no comment.