UE Member Beaten
By New York Cops
While Doing His Job
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.
ASSAULT LIVE ON RADIO
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
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
‘I’M ON THE GROUND’
"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
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
SHACKLED TO BED
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
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