As expected, the owners of Kokopellis have filed a notice of claim against the city and Police Department, more for the aftermath of what transpired on Jan. 25 at the Fourth Street establishment than the melee itself.
The bottom line is Kokopellis owners, Barry and Joe Glick, feel the city and Police Department are harassing the establishment, causing them to lose business with the ultimate goal of putting them out of business.
And, since the city handled the incident so badly – and the fact owners’ Barry and Joe Glick have hired Elmer Keach who is known for suing the pants off law enforcement and winning – I would say the city is in pretty close to a no-win situation.
Since every news outlet in the area has reported the fact the document has been filed, let’s take a look at each element in the notice of claim, which of course is not the formal lawsuit. The formal suit, to be filed in federal court unless the city pays an undisclosed amount of damages, will eventually include a bunch of under-oath depositions - and those should be an interesting read.
Phrases in italics are what are stated in the notice, the phrase following are my observations.
-During the evening of Jan. 24 and/or the morning of Jan. 25, Kokopellis hosted a party for individuals celebrating the life of their recently decease friend, Darzee Reid.
That much is true. Reid was shot to death on an Albany Street in April, 2013 in what was widely seen as a gang related hit. When Judge Stephen Herrick sentenced 27-year-old Leonard Spence to 21 years for the shooting, he described the killing as perpetuating a cycle of violence since Spence’s brother was gunned down a year earlier. I say gang related because Spence mistook Reid as the guy who actually shot his brother, which means who actually did the shooting is still at large.
That is probably one reason police set up the Mobile Command Center outside the bar at 10 p.m. on Jan. 24 and decided to put on additional troops – they were expecting problems and were prepared, if not looking for, a fight.
-During the party, Joseph Glick and his staff smelled marijuana on the second floor of their club. In response, Joseph Glick directed his staff to shut down the club and contact the Troy Police Department.
Incidentally, one of Kokopellis’ staff was assaulted by a patron who tried to push his way onto the second floor that was now closed. The Troy Police Department was called again in response to this assault.
I don’t think any of that is in dispute.
-At approximately 2:45 am, numerous Troy Police Department Officers stormed into Kokopellis and brutally assaulted a number of Kokopellis’ patrons.
“Stormed into the bar” is not an accurate description. The surveillance videos show the police walking into the bar while patrons were leaving in what appeared to be in an orderly fashion. It wasn’t until police went to arrest Roshawan Donnelly that all hell broke loose and police started hitting him with nightsticks.
-The Troy Police Department tried to justify their behavior by claiming that the patrons tried to assault police officers who were attempting to maintain order. However, the Glicks, who wanted the public to know what actually happened in their club, released videotapes of this incident to various media outlets. The video from Kokopellis directly contradicts statements by the Troy Police Department about the events that took place at Kokopellis, and further demonstrated the excessive use of force by several Troy Police Officers.
That much is true, but I don’t think the bar can sue over whether the police used excessive force or not. The patrons certainly can, and it’s just a matter of time before those suits are filed too.
-In order to shift the blame for their outrageous conduct, the Troy Police Department, including Chief Tedesco, made a number of blatantly false comments about the Glicks and engaged in a campaign of harassment against the claimants because of the Glick's efforts to inform the public.
There certainly was a war of words and of video – or better put a war of interpreting the videos. Who won depends on who you talk to as there are just as many standing behind the police and bashing the bar as there are bashing the police as racists. In the end, I don’t think anyone knows how the courts will rule on this one or if it even matters.
-For instance, on the night of the incident, Troy Police Sergeant Carillo told Joseph Glick, Barry Glick and other Kokopellis employees, that when he was done with "this bullshit paperwork. I am going to take your liquor license."
I know Carillo and don’t doubt for a second he said what he’s accused of saying. And the notice claims there are witnesses too. But, I have no idea if that violates anyone’s rights or not.
-Shortly thereafter, and despite the Glick's full compliance with the police department's investigatory efforts, the Glicks were turned into the State Liquor Authority by, upon information and belief the Troy Police Department.
The SLA is investigating and I have no doubt it was based on a complaint, or at least a tip, by the TPD. I don’t know how compliant the Glick’s have been in helping the police investigate. If they were compliant, it certainly wasn’t a long lasting partnership.
-Currently, the Glicks are defending an action by the State Liquor Authority wherein one of the possible penalties is revocation of their license. Additionally, one of Kokopellis" bartenders was recently arrested for serving alcohol to a minor despite that conduct being a ticketable offense and video depicting that minor providing appropriate identification.
That much is true too. The police did point to a section of video that showed someone they claim was underage purchasing alcoholic beverages from the bartender in question. I don’t think police would make up the underage person and then alert the press about it unless it was true, and if it’s a fake ID then I think the bar is still culpable. Also, I think the difference between an arrest and a “ticketable offense” is splitting hairs because she did turn herself into the TPD.
-Since the incident, Troy Police Department officers have parked their cars outside of Kokopellis almost every night causing Mr. Glick to lose a tremendous amount of business. Troy Police Officers have been stopping and towing cars that park near Kokopellis including a friend of Joseph Glick.
I don’t doubt any of that in the least. But, police are known to patrol that area of Fourth Street and known to long before Jan. 25. As far as towing cars goes … I have no idea if police targeted patrons but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they had reason, even if the reason was largely overlooked in the past.
-High ranking Troy Officers, including Chief Tedesco and Captain Cooney, in addition to the Police Benevolent Association President, Bob Fitzgerald, have also made public and blatantly false statements about Kokopellis.
Yep, that much is true too. It’s been a war of words and rather than sit back and let it play out the TPD and city did respond.
-For example, statements have been made indicating that the Glicks were responsible for the escalation of violence because Kokopellis was over capacity on the night of the incident and that patrons were throwing glass bottles from the bar at police officers.
The Glicks maintain their current Certificate of Occupancy does not have any limit, which, if true, then someone didn’t do their job and assign one. There is a sign saying no more than 99 people are allowed on each of the three floors hanging within the establishment but the Glicks say there were 245 according to the bouncer’s counter.
As far as the glass bottles thrown at police officers go, I’m told by a good source they came from Gino’s Pizza located across the street from the bar not from the bar itself.
-On January 28, 2014, several Troy officers produced a search warrant to Joseph Glick at
Kokopellis. The search warrant strictly limited the search to video and audio surveillance equipment. Nevertheless, Joseph Glick caught Troy Police Detective Becker on video searching through cabinets in the basement of the establishment.
If true, and it probably is since the Glicks do have a sophisticated surveillance system set up at the bar, then that’s a problem for the TPD.
-Further, on January 31. 2014, another Troy Police Officer attempted to enter Kokopellis without any identification. After being prohibited entry into the establishment, the officer lifted his shirt revealing his police badge and stated "is this enough fucking identification for you?" After still being refused entry and refusing to give his name and badge number, the officer advised Kokopellis staff that he was an undercover Troy police officer and would be across the street watching the bar.
I don’t know if that is such a big deal or not. It’s not the first time Troy police have sent an undercover cop into a bar and certainly not the last.
-These are just a few of the many incidents of harassment perpetrated by the Troy Police
Department. As a result of the harassment, the Clicks have lost thousands of dollars in revenue from their establishment and suffered significant emotional distress. Moreover, the Clicks have had to close Kokopellis on Sundays and Mondays and close early on Tuesdays because of the reduction in business.
Seems to me if they opened up on Sundays and Mondays and stayed open to normal time on Tuesdays they would make more money not less.
This one is far from over and I don’t know how the city can settle its way out of it since they have defended their actions time and again since shortly after the actual melee. If they settle, it shoots all their posturing as just that … posturing.