Ex-officer Cirulli on his own to fight civil suit in taped beating of local man

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Former Buffalo Police Officer John Cirulli is on his own to pay damages and defend himself in a federal lawsuit stemming from the videotaped beating of John Willet.

State Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek issued a decision Tuesday supporting the city.

The city argued that Cirulli acted outside of his job as a police officer when he beat Willet while he lay handcuffed on his stomach on the sidewalk during an April 19, 2014 arrest at Ontario and Philadelphia Streets in Riverside. Willet claimed he was driving down the street when he was pulled over by police. He was pursued on foot and subsequently handcuffed while lying on his stomach.

The arrest was videotaped by a bystander who subsequently made it public.

Siwek agreed with the city that it does not need to cover any damages Cirulli may be liable for and the city doesn’t have to cover his legal costs.

Cirulli resigned from the Buffalo Police force on May 23, 2014 as part of a federal criminal plea agreement in which he pled guilty to two misdemeanors. Cirulli admitted striking Willet and depriving him of his civil rights.

Willet has filed a civil lawsuit seeking $3 million in damages. The city remains a defendant in the lawsuit along with the Buffalo Police Department and two officers.

In her decision, Judge Siwek said Cirulli “cross the line, engaged in criminal activity and was neither acting within the scope of his employment nor furthering the interests of the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo. Therefore he is not entitled to be defended or indemnified by the City of Buffalo in Willet’s civil suit.”

 

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