Bronx News
Jan 5, 2018

BRONX NEWS: Bronx detective allegedly downgraded 2015 assault to misdemeanor

A veteran Bronx cop is accused of downgrading a wild attack on a Rite-Aid security guard beaten with a skateboard by a group of teen shoplifters from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Frank Cirminello, a detective in the 49th Precinct with 15 years on the force, was the subject of an ongoing NYPD disciplinary trial this week at police headquarters for the alleged misconduct.

A random NYPD audit in August 2015 caught the misclassification and the Quality Assurance Division opened an investigation, leading to the trial two years later.

The investigation heated up in October 2015 after a tipster anonymously alleged broader downgrading of crimes in the 49th Precinct.

Cirminello is accused of misclassifying a June 29, 2015, incident in a Rite Aid on Boston Road.

Security guard Mohamed Kamara spotted a teenage girl slipping a bottle of cold medicine into her pocked. When he stopped her and demanded she give the bottle up one of the four boys with her told him to let her go.

“One of the guys hits me in the back of the head with a skateboard,” Kamara testified Wednesday. “I threw a basket at them, and he hit me again twice with the skateboard.”

The teens fled after smashing two glass panes in a door and trying to break the video security system, Kamara said.

A patrol sergeant with the 49th Precinct classified the case not as felony assault or robbery, but two lesser misdemeanors — criminal mischief and assault three.

The police report quoted Kamara as saying the strikes from the skateboard were “unintentional.”

“We re-interviewed (Kamara) and he stated he had been assaulted intentionally,” Lt. Michael Brill of the NYPD’s Quality Assurance Division testified Wednesday. Brill said the claim the blows were unintentional were “in my experience, an attempt to justify a misdemeanor charge.”

“I told them (the police) they did it intentionally,” Kamara testified. “I threw the basket at them because I didn’t have anything to defend myself with.”

The report also omitted Kamara’s injuries — a cut to the back of his head that he had treated at a local hospital.

The patrol sergeant was later penalized 10 vacation days.

Under cross-examination from department advocate Anna Krutaya, Cirminello, 39, admitted he didn’t interview all the store employees or customers and to not asking Kamara for his medical records, why he threw the basket, or what he thought was stolen.

He said he was preoccupied by an attempted murder investigation — one of 250 cases the veteran detective handles each year. The teens who assaulted Kamara were never caught.

Cirminello, explaining the misdemeanor classification, said it would have been hard to convince a jury that the teens intended to hurt the victim.

“I am looking for something I can present to a jury,” he testified to Deputy Commissioner David Weisel, the trial judge. “It would have been a tough sell.”

“(The victim) told me he did not see who did it,” Cirminello added. “I did not have enough evidence to upgrade the classification.”

The detective’s commander, Capt. Dennis O’Brien, testified that Cirminello is an “important member” of the squad. “His work has a high degree of quality,” he said. “He is very trustworthy and has a high degree of integrity.”

Cirminello faces the loss of 10 vacation days if the NYPD court finds against him. Closing arguments in the case were postponed Thursday.

The final decision on discipline belongs to Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

“He conducted a thorough investigation in this case with all the information he had available to him,” Cirminello’s lawyer James Moschella said Wednesday at the start of the trial.

The trial touched on some of the issues raised by Brooklyn NYPD Transit Capt. Marash Vucinaj in a Daily News expose earlier this week.

Vucinaj, a 24-year veteran, claimed that some felony crime reports for assault, grand larceny and non-injury shootings are misclassified to lower the city’s crime stats. He also said details of the crime are omitted to allow lower classifications.

Police officials disputed his claim of widespread misclassification. They said just 2% of 700,00 crime reports annually are misclassified — or about 14,000 reports.

Since 2013, 41 cops have been disciplined for misclassifying reports, records obtained by the Daily News show. All of them kept their jobs.

Send a Letter to the Editor

Join the Conversation:

Bronx detective allegedly downgraded 2015 assault to misdemeanor

Leave a comment