Special Report: A Black man risks all to clear his name - and expose the police

Levinson and Lisa Girion by Reade

Silvon Simmons changes from a jumpsuit in prison to dress-up jeans, coat and tie in a court house holding cell.

As a child he assumed he was a cop.

A 36-year-old father, Simmons, who is reported to have tried to kill a policeman, is now about to face trial in October 2017.

Simmons was shot three times from behind by the cop, Joseph Ferrigno.

Ferrigno, the patrolman from the Rochester Department, insisted the first shot by Simmons.

A 9mm Ruger gun was located a couple of feet from the location where Simmons was leaving bleeding.

Ferrigno has been endorsed by the Rochester Police Force and the police union.

The union leader, Locust Club president Michael Mazzeo, one of his most vocal fans.

He said Ferrigno's version of what transpired on the 1 April 2016 night was never questioned.

"The shot at this officer, and he came back with fire," said Mazzeo.

The police officer said that Ferrigno is not permitted to comment openly and any officials interested with the case are not allowed.

But their account of that night appeared in police study checked by Reuters well before witnesses were testified at the Simmons trial.

Ferrigno spotting a Chevrolet Impala starts and has been on the road to the entrance next to the house of Simmons.

Cops hunted for an impala's armed black man.

In an Impala operated by his neighbor, Simmons was a passenger; they're both Black.

Neither, however was pursued by the man officers.

On the weapon was not found Simmons' DNA.

He wasn't on the gun with his prints.

Never did police search him for the traces of gunpowder.

And the officers were not working that area of town until months later, because they wouldn't be using body cameras.

Simmons remembered that when he bleeding at his own backyard his feeling had been crossing: "People will never know the truth if he dies then and there."

What he was scared seemed to happen.

Ferrigno's experience variant has taken hold.

Simmons' account of that night had been ignored by the detectives on the investigation, both Locust Club members.

He remembered, "No one will listen.

"Only one story was there."

Ferrigno was the primary source in the prosecution's argument.

Simmons would live the remainder of his time behind bars if the jurors believed him.

He declined a settlement and spent 15 years on an allegation of weapons possession: "a gigantic gamble," as public defender Elizabeth Riley called it.

Yet he wanted his life back, the boys, the work and a chance to assert his innocence that he raised with his girlfriend.

By the tribunal, Riley said that the police office in Rochester was required to announce that had Simmons pled guilty, "Would not have come to light."

These records indicate that police officers possess the exceptional immunity to external inspection, a position maintained by police officers all over the United States.

In people c. Simmons, Reuters checked thousands of pages of trial documents, police reports and other facts.

The documents show that Ferrigno, a white officer with a background of almost nine years, made a series of choices which contradicted widespread polices.

In certain instances, police analysts said to Reuters, Ferrigno was setting the scene for a sanguinary conference with Simmons.

Other decisions probably exacerbated the conference, jeopardizing the life of both men.

The documents also show that investigator shortcuts and errors hampered crime and internal fire inquiries by the police and may have misled the force to defects in the Simmons case.

The papers demonstrate the decisive position performed in the inquiries by mutual collaborators and union members of the Locust Club.

And they show Simmons' struggle when he went on trial alongside two defense publics fighting a working fraternity.

Simmons, who paid $ 17.50 an hour when shooting, told Reuters that The police can shoot and then hide behind their union and cover it up."

"The unions are behind the police in the world.

They recruit attorneys who can solve the structure.

The ordinary person they apprehend has little resources to do all that."

The police themselves are in America.

This is the tradition progressives have been seeking to alter for decades in Rochester and elsewhere.


Police officers in Rochester refused to clarify the shooting or investigative specifics.

However in a comment to Reuters, the department confirmed that acting chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan will make any required policy adjustments to ensure that police are adequately used and properly prosecuted.

"The community is eager to involve it," said the statement.

However, attempts in the past that rendered people more conscious of police activity lost fuel or have been thwarted by the Locust Club, one of America's largest democratic unions.

The syndicate also used state collective bargaining rules to shield officers from cement.

It convinced a judge this year to block from convincing evidence by the officers and discipline police to the influential new civil control commission in town.

A comprehensive review of the police syndical contracts, legal rulings and judgments of the Labour Board was decided by Reuters. The influence of the Locust Club is not special.

Employment rules, employment arrangements and legal decisions avoid improvements in the form in which the police are being prosecuted and punished, according to Reuters.

In certain situations the labor permit is subject to also adjustments in organizational strategies.

As several US cities, Rochester again has concerns regarding its police actions.

In March, in police detention, Daniel Prude, a Black man, died.

A span of months after which Prude's footage is released has fuelled the allegations of disguised detention and leads to the police head's resignation.

Letitia James, attorney general of New York, also invited a large jury to consider the indictment of officials.

A September study on the police actions of Prude by the deputy mayor of the city described a couple of the same problems Simmons encountered and pointed to a culture of isolation, acceptance, and quite honest disappointment that impermits the Police Department of Rochester."

In the months leading up to their son's conviction, Frank and Sharlene Simmons state they had common questions.

Enough a community network for individuals injured in police meetings, is entered. Enough is appropriate.

The organization was founded after another violent event involving Officer Ferrigno, the 2013 detention of Benny Warr, a one-legged man, who was gunned down and thrown by police at a bus stop from his wheelchair.

On the night of 2016, Simmons was shot and the area was swarmed by the Rochester police looking for testiges and the projectile Simmons had fired.

As dog officers got a half block north of a shot at Simmons, they encircled a van in the street. A white structure home.

By chance, Warr was a disabled individual seated in the van and listening to his grandson's radio.

"Since the 2013 incident, Warr, 60, has been terrified of cops," Nina said.

At the conference he sustained back and neck fractures, and physicians advised him he would never move again with a prothesis, she said.

Warr heard the news in the morning when police surrounded the van: Ferrigno, one of the policemen who had racked the Warr, was the guy who had fired this guy a few homes down.

The Rochester Police Office cleared the policemen of unnecessary brutality from Warr and last year, after the Warrs sued, a federal jury exonerated Ferrigno of guilt.

His wife assured his wife that Benny Warr never got over it.

After discovering that Ferrigno shot a man on his lane, he was so distracted that she carried him to the mental facility.

Then she went to meet the guy Ferrigno's family shot.

She said that she needed them to realize what her husband had done to Ferrigno and the other policemen.

In an All is Enough conference, Warr introduced herself to Simmons' parents and directed them to her counsel.

Charles Burkwit, attorney attorney of Ferrigno, obtained proof of nearly two dozen misconduct charges.

Simmonses said it was troubled: Why did the police authorize the Rochester Lake Unit to patrol an officer with the nuanced past of Ferrigno?

The Lakes district in 2016 was more murderous, burglary and aggravated assaults than every other section in a town with a homicide crime rate double the national average.

Since Reuters is not public, it did not evaluate Ferrigno's grievances.

The leader of the Union, Mazzeo, claimed that Ferrigno's background was not checked but that it described him as a 'proactive' Cop, a very difficult" region he patrolled, who was respected by his colleagues and law-abiding citizens.

"The reality is that the officers who work in the toughest areas are going to receive complaints," said Mazzeo.


Ferrigno was questioned by 2 sergeants from the Departmental Professional Standards Division who examined the actions of officer, on 23 August 2016, all of whom were fellow members of the Locust Club. It lasted about 50 minutes for the conference.

The Locust Club deal encourages officers to have a representative of the union present for interviews and mandates the interviews be done during the daytime "at an hour reasonable." Officers shall have the access to any previous records received on the event, details on the extent of the investigations and the identities of all people concerned, which information is almost non-existent.

Reuters finds that almost all major cities with police associations since 2016 have been giving authorities a comparable privilege or more.

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