Charges Dropped Against Soldier Accused of Exercising Free Speech

December 18th, 2004 - by admin

IndyMedia/ NYC – 2004-12-18 22:20:11

NEW YORK (December 17, 2004) — Dennis Kyne was among those arrested on the evening of August 31st on the steps of the New York City public library. On December 16, 2004, halfway through the jury trial against Mr. Kyne, New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s Office made a motion to dismiss all of the charges.

New York City Criminal Court Judge Gerald Harris granted the motion and commended the District Attorney’s office for its fairness and professionalism. That decision came after Lewis and Gideon Oliver, Kyne’s attorneys, produced video and photographic evidence which they believe raise serious concerns that NYPD Officer Matthew Wohl may have lied numerous times under oath.

On the 31st, according to Officer Wohl’s testimony, he was part of a mobile response team present at the library over an hour before any arrests were made. According to eyewitnesses at the library that day, including Mr. Kyne, and videotape of the event, members of the NYPD began searching and arresting people shortly before 6:00 PM.

According to eyewitnesses, the searches and arrests were forceful, apparently indiscriminate, and frightening. Among those arrested prior to Mr. Kyne were a 55-year-old art history professor from the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, who was at the library with his 18-year-old son en route to a Yankees game, along with two women who had been seated at a table in the plaza in front of the library singing and playing guitar, one of whom was 16 and the other of whom was 17.

Officer Wohl testified that he personally observed Mr. Kyne yelling in a “boisterous” manner just before he was placed under arrest, although he could not specifically remember what Mr. Kyne was yelling.

Complaining in a ‘Violent and Tumultuous Manner’
According to the sworn Accusatory Instrument Officer Wohl signed on September 1, 2004, Mr. Kyne was yelling, “Look what they are doing. The government is taking away our rights. They lied to you; they lied to me” in a “violent and tumultuous manner.”

Officer Wohl testified that he personally effected Mr. Kyne’s arrest along with two other unidentified officers. According to him, Mr. Kyne was “screaming, yelling, and moving around” throughout the process.

When asked how Mr. Kyne had resisted arrest, Officer Wohl testified that his “mouth, heart, and eyes” were moving, and that he lunged in a number of different directions, “almost like what a little kid would do.”

Officer Wohl also testified that Mr. Kyne “went down to the ground himself” and that Officer Wohl and three others had to pick him up and carry him across the street “while he squirmed and screamed” all the way to the back of the NYPD transport vehicle.

Mr. Kyne’s attorneys believe that the videotape and pictures raise serious questions about key elements of Officer Wohl’s sworn testimony. Officer Wohl does not appear on the videotape or pictures produced by Mr. Kyne’s attorneys. Nor does the videotape ever show Mr. Kyne yelling what Officer Wohl’s Accusatory Instrument claims he was yelling.

The videotape shows that Mr. Kyne reacted to several apparently baseless detentions and sometimes violent arrests by shouting that the police were “fucking Nazis” as he was walking away from the library. Officer Wohl testified that he did not recall Mr. Kyne ever yelling those words, despite that, according to his testimony, he was within feet of Mr. Kyne moments before his arrest.

Videotape Records an Illegal ‘Political’ Arrest
According to Mr. Kyne, as he was on the sidewalk walking away from the library, a police officer in a white shirt suddenly yelled, “That’s a collar!” Videotape and pictures of the event show that two officers — neither of whom was Officer Wohl — then forced Mr. Kyne to his knees and placed him in plastic flexi-cuffs. As they were doing so, another police officer, who was wearing khaki pants and a short-sleeved, white t-shirt bearing no name or badge number, recognized Mr. Kyne and ordered that he be charged with “Dis Con and resisting.”

Mr. Kyne was, at that time, complying with the officers who were arresting him and repeating, “I’m not resisting.” Another videotape shows that the officer in khaki pants — whom one person referred to as a “Commissioner” — later approached a Lieutenant from the NYPD’s Legal Bureau and said, “We got one of the troublemakers from Pataki’s last night.” According to news reports, Governor Pataki was at McSorley’s Alehouse the night of the 30th.

Mr. Kyne was charged with seven violations and misdemeanors, including three Class A misdemeanors — Riot in the Second Degree, Resisting Arrest, and Obstructing Governmental Administration — each of which carries a potential sentence of up to a year in jail.

The DA’s Office dropped the Riot charge before the trial started. It also offered to dismiss the five other charges in exchange for a single Disorderly Conduct guilty plea, but Mr. Kyne believed that it was his duty to fight the charges.

During the trial, Officer Wohl also testified that he arrested four others along with Mr. Kyne, including two French Canadian men who were arrested for merely holding a banner in their hands in front of one of the library’s famous lions after another police officer told them they could do so.

Innocent Civilians Arrested; Police Lie to Court
Several of the people Officer Wohl claims he arrested were prepared to testify that Officer Wohl had not, in fact, done so. “Especially these past few months in New York City, the scope of constitutionally protected conduct the Police Department has been criminalizing is shocking,” said Kyne’s lawyers.

“We are worried that Officer Wohl did not tell the truth about what the NYPD did to Dennis. Maybe he was just following orders. If that is the case — if someone ordered him to lie on the stand — we believe that the District Attorney’s office has an obligation to investigate this matter immediately, and lodge charges against those responsible, where appropriate. Police officers cannot lie in a court of law and get away with it. The District Attorney’s office acted admirably in dismissing the charges against Mr. Kyne, but we believe that justice requires more of them in this case.”

Mr. Kyne comes from a long line of military men, and is himself a Gulf War I veteran. Mr. Kyne served as a medic for the United States Army and enjoys an honorable discharge from military service. He served in the United States Army from 1989 through 1995, achieved the rank of Drill Sergeant, and was with the 24th Infantry Division, the most forward unit in the conflict, during Operation Desert Storm.

Mr. Kyne now receives a monthly check from the United States Government for “undiagnosed illnesses” in connection with his military service. For more than 15 years, during the Gulf War, and even today the United States military has been using “depleted” uranium in artillery shells and armor plating. Mr. Kyne believes that what the government refers to as “Gulf War Syndrome” is, in fact, the result of the Army’s use of “depleted” uranium on the battlefield. He has written a book on the topic, “Support the Truth,” twelve copies of which were in his possession when he was arrested on August 31st.

Mr. Kyne was in New York City during the Republican National Convention in order to speak about “depleted” uranium. He was particularly concerned to speak with New York City Police, Corrections, and Fire Department Officers in connection with reports that four New Yorkers from a unit made up mostly of those officers had recently shown signs of manmade, “depleted” uranium in their urine.

Mr. Kyne is concerned that he was targeted by the NYPD and forced to face criminal charges because they disagreed with his fervent activism against the military’s use of “depleted” uranium, which Mr. Kyne believes is still killing soldiers.

Mr. Kyne was represented by Lewis B. Oliver, Jr. and Gideon Orion Oliver, a father-and-son team of civil rights attorneys. Lewis B. Oliver, Jr. conducted the trial. The Olivers are among the attorneys affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild who have initiated a federal civil rights class action against the New York City Police Department in connection with its conduct during the Republican National Convention.

Mr. Kyne’s attorneys are calling on District Attorney Morgenthau to dismiss the charges against the others Officer Wohl claims to have arrested, and hope that it will launch a full investigation into this matter. They are concerned that, during the Republican National Convention, police officers appear to have made “dragnet” arrests, sweeping up groups of people instead of individuals, and then forced them to face criminal penalties based on the testimony of officers like Wohl, who may not have seen what they claim to have seen.

“No matter when he said it, or how loud, Dennis was right,” said Mr. Kyne’s attorneys. “They lied to you, they lied to me, and they are trying to take away our civil rights.”

For more information about that lawsuit, please contact the National Lawyers Guild at (212) 679-6018, extension 16.

Dennis Kyne may be reached through his lawyers at: (646) 602-9242

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