An attorney representing Beaver Borough and the Beaver Borough Police Department told a judge yesterday that a criminal defendant arrested by one of its officers must submit a Right-To-Know request for potentially exculpatory evidence in his case, which the attorney said the department will then deny because of an exception in the open records law for investigative files.

Solicitor John J. Petrush made the argument before Common Pleas Judge Dale Fouse yesterday morning during a pretrial hearing in the Commonwealth’s case against James Edward Cicco. Beaver Patrolman Jeffery Wijnen-riems has alleged that Cicco resisted arrest, assaulted him, taunted his K-9 partner, and grabbed a hand drill during an encounter with the man last August. Eyewitnesses alleged the officer was aggressive and used excessive force against a man who they say was clearly trying to surrender. Cicco suffered gruesome injuries during the arrest as a result of Wijnen-riems deploying his police K-9 on the man — dash cam video of the incident appears to show the dog mauling Cicco while he is handcuffed. An investigation into the incident by the Pennsylvania State Police found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the officer.

Defense Attorney Gerald Benyo, who is representing James Cicco, filed a motion asking for the production of certain records maintained by Beaver Borough and the Beaver Police Department, which Benyo asserted the District Attorney should compel production of in his role as the county’s top law enforcement officer. Among the records being sought included documentation on policies and procedures for the Beaver Police Department, information that may demonstrate why the department’s dash cam did not record audio of the incident as it was designed to, training logs for their department’s K-9, and disciplinary records for Officer Wijnen-riems related to any alleged incidents of excessive force or past violations of departmental procedures.

Attorney Benyo appeared stunned as Beaver Solicitor John Petrush argued that a criminal defendant arrested by the Beaver Police Department had to file Right-to-Know requests for such information. Attorney Petrush told Judge Fouse he would be submitting a brief with the court arguing why a defendant should have to file an open records request for information that could be useful in the defense of their case, and why the Beaver Police Department should be allowed to deny those requests under an investigative file exception.

Not applicable to the criminal court system, the Pennsylvania Open Records Act defines a process by which members of the general public can gain access to public records, such as a municipality’s budget or county meeting minutes. The “investigative records exception” is designed to prevent the general public from gaining access to sensitive information gathered as part of a criminal investigation.

“My client is a defendant in a criminal case,” an exasperated Benyo told Judge Fouse. “He is not the general public […] he has a Constitutional right to exculpatory evidence.”

If attorney Petrush’s reasoning is allowed to stand, police departments in Beaver County could file criminal charges against an individual and then be allowed to keep information secret which may be valuable to their defense by invoking open records exemptions (something which would be unconstitutional under the United States Supreme Court’s landmark case of Brady v. Maryland).

The District Attorney’s Office took no position as to Petrush’s Right-to-Know argument during the proceedings.

Judge Dale Fouse did not issue any rulings from the bench, but seemed to indicate he was not impressed with the Beaver Solicitor’s argument, suggesting instead he may be inclined to compel the Beaver Police Department to provide the records for him to review and then make an independent determination as to their potential relevance in the case.

47 COMMENTS

  1. Even the judge reviewing the documents before releasing them to the defense isn’t valid. He knows that. Petrush is just spittin’ out words to see where they splatter. He understands there’s no merit to the argument. Fouse should have laughed and denied.

     
  2. This corrupt lower court system was designed in this country long ago. They do what they want to do really. The court is like a play pretending to act in the color of law. The appeals to higher courts are the only court the average person has a better chance to possibly win

     
  3. Wow. Ha buh da??? Most crimes in Beaver Never get reported!!! Beaver Times is in town and conviniently ignores most Crimes in Beaver!! Wonder why? Anyone have a guess?

     
  4. every thing about this has been dirty from the start and every body knows it but no body will do any thing about it typical Beaver County

     
    • Ever here of something called The Bill of Rights and The Constitution of The United States of America. Beaver County is a country unto itself.

       
  5. Why is Beaver Boro protecting this guy? It would be a lot cheaper to get rid of him before he kills someone. In my opinion this is the beginning of a cover up. This cop has numerous deliberate excessive force incidents. Bring out all the evidence into the light and see just WTF happened here. What’s the big fucking secret? Fire his ass and let him sue. It would be a cost saving move in the long run, before they have a wrongful death suit. If you’re going to do the job, then fucking do it right!

     
    • The dog should have never been used. Cicco was no threat to anyone. Even if he was, the police are suppose to be trained to take someone into custody without killing them. Look at Cicco, he couldn’t hurt a fly. Get all the evidence out into the open. This cop is going to put the Boro into bankruptcy and Cicco deserves every dime they have.

       
    • I agree Debbie. Let’s see the tape to see if the guy did or didn’t do it. That simple. Why all the hiding? All the zigging and zagging. Madgar is not going to let this get out. I won’t even get into Madgar. JP will just “moderate” my post

       
    • Okay so an animal, who acts on commands and instincts should have more rights than a human? No, this officer has a history of violence against civilians, he used the dog as a weapon.

      Defending yourself from physical harm is a natural reaction, not a crime.

      But keep defending class traitors.

       
    • Debbie you may wish to withhold judgment in this instance until the Police and District Attorney agree to release the video taken from the Police Vehicle during the incident. Mr. Cicco is on the ground with one hand in handcuffs and the other arm and hand being twisted behind him when the officer from a standing position brings his knee down onto the middle of Mr. Cicco’s back – which causes his leg to involuntarily move – the K-9 was at least 10 feet away when this happened.

       
      • I feel for you Gerry. That hearing had to be like a twilight zone episode. Petrush’s argument was about the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard. I hope Fouse doesn’t drag this out to long. This evidence for Christ’s sake.

         
      • If you are able to slow down the video, frame by frame, you where see, Cicco, putting his thumbs into his ears … sticks out his tongue and then wiggles his fingers at Czar. Now if that’s not taunting, I don’t know what is.
        Now Seriously, look at the above photo of officer hyphenated. Looks as though he is a modern gladiator. He is equipped with every tool to have brought this indecent to a peaceful conclusion. He, however is a punk, frustrated that there is rarely a cause or opportunity to just knock the living shit out of someone. His record speaks for who he is. IMO he is a rogue f’n bully with a badge, and those who cover for him are putting Beaver County Citizens at risk. Madgar should be railroaded over this incident.

         
      • I concur, this cop puts a black cloud over the entire police community and his actions puts stink on the job everywhere. Do the people a favor and get rid of him. Drop all the charges against Cicco, prosecute the cop and give Cicco a payday for undo pain and suffering.

         
      • @Mr Seer….Mungo agrees with you as well and only takes exception with your description of this officer being a gladiator! He is most definitely a punk, but a gladiator is a skilled warrior that engages in battle with their equals.This fellow would undoubtedly piss himself if stripped of all his weapons and K9 partner and had to go toe to toe with a real skilled fighter! Just Mungo’s opinion.

         
      • SEER you are absolutely right. This is a systemic problem that starts and ends with Madgar. You are talking about a municipality that is one square mile. They patrol Vanport and Industry by contract. He has a police budget that is twice as high as a department of a similar size. I don’t want to minimize the service they provide. However that being said, they are not patrolling Beaver Falls and Aliquippa. Compare the crime rates between what Beaver patrols. Then compare what Aliquippa and Beaver Falls patrols. This is a total outrage and waste of taxpayer money. This chief is making over $125,000 a year. Time to look into that

         
  6. Holding back dash-cam or body-cam video defeats the whole fucking purpose of having that equipment. This is the exact reason they started using this technology. I’ll bet you could get video of them shaking down the 7-11 for a day old wiener.

     
  7. The animals r to be used as tools. The police do have a tough job with jagoffs . I used to be a jagoff but now i c both sides of the coin. But it’s the animal is clearly being used from tool to weapon for entertainment for other officers to witness. I’m lookn forward to seeing the video just so people can c for them selves.

     
  8. I love this picture lol.

    Prepared for combat

    Thigh holster that’s great…tazer on chest…But forgot it that night of incident..

    Shaved arms and K9 in toe….hmmmm

    But it’s beaver lol lol lol…. Mother fuckers watch too much TV

    He’s a tennis player turned bad asss. Only in BEAVER

    But will say this guy didn’t deserve to be mauled and is shining light….But that said.

    It’s BEAVER when the Fuck they getting rid of him, oh wait Madgar controls council

     
    • Benyo should include the county in his action also, for dispatchers and police officers laughing it up on the taxpayers phone line about what happened to Cicco.

      GERALD BENYO FOR DISTRICT ATTORNEY!

       
  9. And do not forget people, Beaver Police also employs JOHN-JOE! Only in Beaver in Beaver County.
    Maybe he is the one that wrote up the report for this incident. (wink-wink)

     
  10. What’s sad is that it took a lowlife, repeat criminal to expose an out of control cop. The former is NOT a martyr and the latter doesn’t deserve to wear a badge.

     
  11. Mungo would simply say ….Please Mr Fouse dig deep into your heart and mind and remember when you first wanted to be where you are today, and remember all the principled steps you took to attain your truly esteemed position in our society. Do the right thing here and dont allow bias to affect your decision in this matter. Respectfully yours Mungo!

     
  12. Im sure this will make some people mad but isn’t it a little unprofessional of one of the lawyers involved in this case to be posting commentary on social media while this is an ongoing case? As corrupt as the county system may be, and I believe that it is, I just don’t give alot of weight to a case that is being argued on social media. If you feel confident in you ability to get justice for this man, don’t lower yourself, sir.

     
    • I disagree, who better to comment on this matter than the attorney that is directly involved and knows all the facts? Benny has the most information available in this matter, he is A NUMBER ONE, TOP OF THE LIST, in my book.

       
  13. Why is that cop wearing all that equipment ? Rambo didn’t have that much stuff in Rambo II when he dropped into Nam .

     
    • Oh you know, the mean streets of Beaver. Shootings; open drug dealing; prostitution; street gambling; gang violence; etc., etc., etc………..HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

       
  14. Just a casual observation, but in every other article, most of you regular commenters always beg for the state police to be called in and investigate this or that. I.E, friendship ridge, and the other circus clowns at the courthouse. In this case, PSP was called and their investigation showed no wrongdoing. So what is it exactly that you feel you personally need to know further? Still frames of the video are useless to the general public. Taunting a K9 can be audible, not physical. I wouldn’t dare defend this officers career as a whole, because he does have issues. But in this case specifically, I’ll wait to jump to conclusions. If he’s in the right, then the only other issue could possibly be Czar not properly trained or quite frankly his animal instincts kicked in and he is the problem with this case. If someone comes after me, my dogs latching onto to their ass no doubt

     
    • I know officer hyphenated …. my above description is right on. Just a bit more evidence was the dispatch/officer ha-ha phone call that followed. IMO- let it play out in court. presently he is on his best behavior, given another pass concerns me. Myself, I respect those who protect and serve, I never want to fear them.

       
  15. How many more stories on this same incident?

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!

     

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