A bout 45 people showed up in front of the Syracuse Police Headquarters to rally in support of Brad Hulett, a severely disabled man who claims he became the victim of police brutality on May 3rd for refusing to sit down on a Centro bus.
The rally was organized by United as One, a coalition of various disabled and civil rights organizations. Reverand James Thompson told the crowd that Hulett's brutalization is part of a pattern. "Anytime you question their behavior whatever they're trying to do to you at the time, they become very hostile, very forceful and sometimes engage in police brutality. This has to stop."
Surveillance video of what happened to Hulett on May 3rd has outraged many people in Central New york. He refused a bus driver's order to sit down even though the bus accomodates standing passengers. Syracuse Police Sergeant William Galvin and Officer William Coleman were called in. Hulett continued to refuse to sit down or leave the bus. He was tasered twice and dragged off the bus apparently breaking his hip during the incident.
"The police tased him not once, but twice. Then they dragged him off the bus and broke his hip. Are these people insane? For standing on the bus? This is criminal." said Sally Johnston of Disabled in Action.
Hulett's supporters are calling for the immediate suspensions of the police officers and a thorough investigation of their actions. They also want an investigation into Hulett's treatment at the Justice Center Jail where they say Hulett was forced to suffer with a broken hip overnight before receiving medical treatment.
"The public has a right to know what lessons were learned by Centro, the Syracuse Police and the jail from that incident." said Barrie Gewanter of the New York Civil Liberties Union as she called for changes in policies and procedures as they apply to the jail, police use of force, and Centro's handling of disabled passengers.
A spokesman for Police Chief Frank Fowler says he would have no comment.