Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

UE Member Beaten
By New York Cops
While Doing His Job


Errol Maitland

Errol Maitland, speaking at the 1997 UE Convention as a Local 404 delegate.

Errol Maitland, a radio journalist, was doing his job — covering the funeral of yet another unarmed immigrant shot to death by New York police — when he himself became a victim of police assault.

Police pummeling put Maitland in the hospital — where he was shackled to his bed and placed under guard.

Maitland is a technical director, producer and journalist for WBAI, a listener-sponsored, non-commercial station here. He is also a member of amalgamated UE Local 404 and a union steward.

On March 25, Maitland was covering the funeral of Patrick Dorismond, an unarmed Haitian immigrant shot to death on March 16 by an undercover police officer. The demonstration accompanying the funeral provoked a heavy-handed police response.


Maitland was providing live coverage of the demonstration by cell phone. And that, says attorney Michael Warren, makes the case so unique — listeners all over New York heard the victim describe the attack.

On the radio broadcast, Maitland is heard identifying himself as a WBAI reporter and saying, "Captain, could you give us a statement of what’s going on here?" The query is followed by the sound of shouts and scuffles.

An eyewitness reports that Maitland was backing off slowly as police officers moved in, still holding his phone.

"All of a sudden four or five cops just pounced on him. I saw him go down fast and hard to the ground, and they were all on top of him," says Joel Kupferman, a volunteer legal observer at the march.


"I’ve been pushed by a police officer onto the ground," Maitland screamed into his phone, and across the WBAI airwaves. "I’m down on the ground. I’m trying to get myself up. I’m now on my back. I’m still broadcasting... you’re live on WBAI. This is how the Police Department in New York is operating..." And then there was silence.

The UE steward and others assaulted by the police were taken to the 67th Precinct. Usually charges like disorderly conduct result in the issuance of a "desk-appearance ticket," requiring a court appearance at a later date. Michael Warren, attorney for Maitland and others, says that he was told that orders had come from the office of Mayor Giulani to put everyone "through the system" — meaning, incarceration in a cell-block and formal arraignment some 24 hours later.


Through the intervention of Warren and Maitland’s attorney, the UE member was taken to Brooklyn’s Kings County Hospital — where he was handcuffed to his bed. A policeman stood guard over his bed in the coronary intensive-car unit.

It took the intervention of a Kings County criminal court judge, at Warren’s request, to have the guards and handcuffs removed and for Maitland to be issued a desk-appearance ticket.

At UE NEWS press time, Maitland was recuperating out of state. "He’s still experiencing chest pains, and there is significant pains in knees and back, as a result of injuries he sustained," Warren says. There appears to be muscle damage to Maitland’s heart, which may have aggravated a slight pre-existing condition. "He’s emotionally upset as well, as a result of the beating."

Maitland is scheduled to appear in Kings County Criminal Court in Brooklyn on April 27. Warren is expecting to later file civil action against the City of New York on Maitland’s behalf.

UE News - 04/00

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved