BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang signed a subpoena, late Friday, that will force suspended Buffalo Police Officer Robert Eloff to take the witness stand in the upcoming murder trial of Jeffrey Basil.
Basil was a manager at Molly’s Pub where he’s accused of pushing William Sager down a flight of stairs Mother’s Day morning.
“It was Officer Eloff who handcuffed Mr. Sager,” said defense attorney Joel Daniels, who also claims Eloff waited 21 minutes before calling 911 even though Sager was unconscious. “He needed immediate care.”
Last May, when he took the witness stand in a Basil’s felony hearing, Eloff refused to answer any questions. He issued a statement as his answer.
“I respectfully decline to answer that question upon the grounds that to do so might tend to be incriminating in violation of my rights under the Fifth Amendment,” the statement read.
Prosecutor Chris Belling says putting him on the witness stand at Basil’s trial would just be a show for the jury, “They don’t want to ask Eloff anything in the form of a direct examination. They want to cross examine and impeach him.”
If Eloff takes the stand and pleads the Fifth again, Daniels wants the judge to grant him immunity and compel him to testify about that night. Typically only the DA can grant immunity, and already did grant immunity to the other off duty officer who was there, Adam O’Shei. Prosecutors say his testimony will be enough. Prosecutors oppose giving Eloff immunity because they say he could face other charges in the future.
Daniels says the judge can grant immunity in some cases.
“This is that rare case. This is the right case for the court to allow that,” he said.
Officers Eloff and O’Shei remain suspended as the Buffalo Police Internal Affairs Unit investigates just what they were doing at Molly’s Pub the night Sager suffered fatal injuries.
The trial of Jeffrey Basil begins January 5.