The Beaver Countian has uncovered data that shows a Beaver Police dash cam system did in fact record at least some audio during the August 18, 2016 arrest of James Edward Cicco by Patrolman Jeffery Wijnen-Riems (watch the dash cam footage here). The Beaver Countian’s discovery during an analysis of the video contrasts an understanding expressed in open court by the District Attorney’s Office and Beaver Police that the system recorded no sound during the encounter.

The Beaver Countian received a copy of the dash cam video on Thursday after the District Attorney’s Office released it to the general public, pursuant to a joint order of court issued by Judges Dale Fouse and Harry Knafelc. The order came as the result of legal action taken by a group of concerned residents of Beaver Borough who sought access to the recording; Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier had fought against public release of the data for months prior to the group’s court filing.

The WatchGuard dash cam system utilized by the Beaver Borough Police Department is designed to record audio in a stereo format. The “left channel” of the recording is designated for audio from a wireless microphone an officer wears on his person, the “right channel” is to contain recordings from a cabin microphone installed in the patrol unit.

During testimony at trial, Officer Wijnen-Riems told jurors that he was not wearing his ballistic vest during his encounter with James Cicco, having forgotten it back at the station when he first left for an unrelated non-emergency call. The external carrier holds various equipment including the officer’s taser, police radio, and the remote microphone for the dash cam. Wijnen-Riems testified that the dash cam system did not record his wireless microphone because he did not have it on his person, and the patrol car’s cabin microphone did not record any sound from the incident for unknown reasons.

An analysis by the Beaver Countian of the left channel of the audio track seems to confirm there was no data recorded from an external wireless microphone at the time of the incident. The only signal in the data appears to be line noise generated by the system.

However, an analysis by the Beaver Countian of the right channel of the audio track did reveal recorded sound, which is visually evident on so-called “waveform” monitors that display an image representing the shape and form of audio recordings. The audio (which starts at the 1 minute mark) is at a very low level on the recording and only became discernible by ear following amplification in specialized software. Line noise in the recording is also amplified through that process which required additional filtering to diminish.

With its analysis to date, the Beaver Countian has been able to discern what is believed to be the sound of a police siren wailing (starting ~1m24s) as Officer Wijnen-Riems initiates a traffic stop of James Cicco, and also what is believed to be the sound of Officer Wijnen-Riems engaging his air horn as he pulls his patrol car behind the man (~1min35s). Engine noise as the officer accelerates at various times (~1min40s), cabin noise as the officer turns into Cicco’s driveway (~2min26s), and the sound of the officer using his car door (~2min36s), are all also believed to have been identified in the audio track.

It is not yet clear if the file released to the public can be amplified and filtered in such a way that would make discernible any verbal communications made between Wijnen-Riems and Cicco during the arrest. The cabin microphone for the dash cam system is only designed to record audio from within the police cruiser itself, although technical specifications published by the vendor suggests it could potentially pick up sound from outside of the vehicle as well, especially when the vehicle’s doors are open or windows are down.

A professional forensic analysis of the video file, the WatchGuard server at the Beaver Police Department, and equipment installed in the patrol vehicle itself, would be required to determine why the audio in the released video is present at such an extremely low level and whether or not higher quality sound from the incident may be available.

A waveform showing an audio track on the Beaver Police dash cam footage.
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John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

53 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to hear the audio from the other officer’s wireless microphone, especially those few seconds when he slammed Cicco down on the hood of his vehicle!

     
  2. I went to school with Jeff and he had a pretty bad temper. That job is not a good fit for anyone with a temper. Actually a very funny likable guy. That job can turn anyone into a jerk but some quicker then others.

     
    • Well, John Q., in testimony, Cicco said he called him a m—–f—– when he first grabbed him through the open door, so that greeting would be cool to hear. I guess that’s why he forgot to read him his rights before being mauled. .

       
  3. My bet is that after JP concludes his analysis and we actually hear what was said and by whom (this is just a teaser article….JP has probably heard the whole thing by now) we will hear a completely different story than the one told during the trial.

    Since we all know that our DA is so committed to ridding the county of crime, he will immediately file perjury charges against officer douchebag.

    If he doesn’t or won’t, then I hope Mr. Benyo will assist Mr. Cicco in filling a private criminal complaint with the attorney general charging the officer with perjury as well as charging him and the DA with conspiracy to commit perjury. There is probably a very good reason why the battle to keep this tape from being released was going fought so hard and tainting the jury pool doesn’t sound like it’s the real reason.

    My question to JP would be is there any waveform delta from the left channel at any point during the tape? In theory since the microphone was left behind at the station it wouldn’t have been engaged at any point during the video. If there is any noise differential then it’s most likely because that channel was recorded over. Since there was no recording device on that channel, the entire data stream for that channel should be nothing other than null values rather than white noise data.

    If it was recorded over then this officer will lose his job by default because he’ll be in jail. I heard that there are some pretty boys there looking forward to seeing him in the shower without his dog.

     
    • My guess, and only that, is that this was not a chance meeting of two ships passing in the.night. The audio would likely show that.

       
      • Yeah Raven, In court he testified he had NOT had any previous knowledge of Mr. Cicco. Another lie, Benyo had to refresh his memory.

         
  4. Dog’s fault. Cop’s responsibility. Aren’t K9s only allowed to go out with officers that are their trainers so that the person who has the most control is always the one responsible for the animal?

     
  5. John Paul, This is the final straw, you leave me no choice but to start a paid subscription to your site. I do this, not so much for the paid content, but because I value he lost art of real investigative reporting.

    With a tip of my hat, good day.

    Aldo

     
  6. What happen to the voice recording of the other office the was on scene? And I know for for a fact that the dog goes by Jeff”s command’s and if Jeff would have gave the commend to release, that dog would have done it! and if he would have gave the command to stay that dog would not have moved even if Cicco ran, but if he did run that dog would have stayed till he was told to go take him down, so when I saw that video of Jeff trying to pull the dog off, he was making sure that Cicco never forgot about his adventure with Jeff’s dog! And when Jeff took the dog the the side of the police car he just had him stay till he had him hand cuff Cicco and then gave the command to respond again, just for him to remember what that dog can do! That’s just what I think what happen, because I have seen what that dog can do a while ago, that is one smart dog and only does what Jeff command’s it to do!

     
    • Did you even watch the video? More on that in a minute. First when you get stopped you NEVER get out of the vehicle unless instructed to. This idiot cop tried to pull him out of his vehicle while he was wearing a seat belt. When he did get out of his vehicle his hands were up, he only retreated because of the dog that never should have come out. I’m not pretending the suspect is an angel. It’s pretty obvious he was driving on a suspended license. The story is not about that. The story is about an out of control cop abusive cop, a chief of police, a mayor, city council, and district attorney, that betray the public, by not only not taking appropriate action, but ignoring and hiding the evidence.

       
    • Poor excuse If the officer was scared then why did he run up to the vehicle and yank the door open. No gun drawn no carefull inspection and did not follow felony stop procedures. This cop was not scared this cop was looking to kick some one ass. This cop specificly sent the dog onto the person when there was no threat at all. No this cop is a little punk who has no respect for the public he serves. The cop needs to be fired and charged for his crime. All who Aided the cop in this illegal attack need to answer for there crimes also.

       
    • @Steve The stupidity of your comment in the context of the article reminds me of something that Larry the Cable Guy might say. The irony of your resemblance to him certainly isn’t lost on me.

       
  7. I had a former Police Lieutenant from an out-of-state agency look at this video, and give me an analysis. This person said Cicco was definitely wrong for not stopping when the traffic stop was first initiated. That being said, this person also said that what Wijnen-Riems did was some “punk ass bullshit.” This person is not a fan of K9’s unless being utilized for searches and seizures. This person said that police are trained and should be using their training to handle these situations not their K9’s. This person’s head almost exploded early in the video when Wijnen-Riems first goes to Cicco’s truck, and he grabs for his gun. So, there you have it, police calling out police for bad behavior.

     
    • You ever met a smart cop? I’ve seen a few that can barely spel their name. Look at the Penna State Police Academy. It’s being investigated for giving out tests and answers to its cadets so they’ll pass the tests.

       
  8. First time I watched the video I was confused. Then I read the article and just now I listened to the cop and dispatcher. Wow!! What the cop had to say is not what I saw. And I don’t know who that dispatcher is but she needs retrained in professionalism. I agree with the jurorer, the cop cannot be believed. Him and his dog needs to be taken out of service immediately.

     
  9. After all that has transpired in this case, it is interesting to go back to the original police report. Maybe it is available, but Kirstin Kennedy of the Times read it and reported on the contents. Needless to say, if Cicco had not obtained a criminal lawyer, and relied upon a public defender, the outcome could have been very different. You can find the inconsistencies yourselves.

    From the Beaver County Times:
    Quote:

    “Industry man charged with striking officer, police dog

    By Kirstin Kennedy kkennedy@timesonline.com Aug 26, 2016 0

    INDUSTRY — A man has been charged with striking a Beaver police dog as he resisted arrest, police said.

    According to a police report, officers were called at about 10 p.m. Aug. 19 to an undisclosed incident on Russel Hill Road in Industry. Police said that while en route to their destination, a person driving a white vehicle refused to move out of the way of the police vehicles. The driver was going at a slow speed and kept pressing the brakes, police said.

    According to the report, the car eventually pulled over. Police said one officer stopped behind the car to see why the driver would not let officers pass. The driver then sped away from the officer and stopped at a driveway in the 1100 block of Midland-Beaver Road, police said.

    The officer could see the man, identified as James Cicco, 33, of Industry, reaching for something on the passenger side of the car, according to the report. Police said the officer “attempted to take him out” of the vehicle as Cicco pushed the officer and hit him in the shoulder. Cicco had a yellow drill in his right hand, police said.

    According to the report, the officer attempted to grab his gun and called for assistance. Police said Cicco closed his car door and told officers he didn’t have anything. The officer opened the car door and tried to pull him out, police said. According to the report, police couldn’t tell what was in Cicco’s hands, later learning it has his car keys.

    Police said the department’s police dog was released to pull Cicco out of the car. Cicco then started hitting the dog, police said. According to the report, Cicco refused to show officers his hands. Police said he stopped hitting the dog and came out of the car. Cicco then refused to straighten his arm to be handcuffed, and the dog was again “deployed.”

    He was then handcuffed and taken into custody, police said.

    Cicco, of 1169 Midland-Beaver Road, is charged by Beaver police with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, fleeing, DUI and 50 counts of possession of a controlled substance. The police report makes no mention of narcotics found on Cicco or in his car.”

    End Quote

     
    • This news report does not mirror the dash cam video. Maybe this cop took lessons from his fellow officer (John Joe) on how to report fictitious happenings. Will someone in Beaver please fire this guy.

       
    • I was going point out all of the lies in the police report, but that would take too long. Here’s what’s not a lie in that police report…………….
      He was then handcuffed and taken into custody, police said.

      Nice work Jeffrey Wijnen-Riems, I wouldn’t go so far as calling you lying douchebag, actually I would.

       
    • If this newspaper report accurately duplicates the contents of the police report (which I believe it does), this will not end well for the police department. The police report and the video describe two different events.

      In the long term, this should result in some good for the residents of the communities patrolled by the Beaver Police Department.

      I just don’t see the presiding public officials surviving if nothing meaningful results from this.

       
    • Raven –

      This reminds of a line from ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary about the Duke lacrosse team. One of the accused players said to the media, “You have all been told some fantastic lies.”

       
  10. With 26 years in the US NAVY and approximately 20 of those as a Chief and Senior Chief, I have evaluated many situations with a eye for detail. First of all the first police officer behind this man’s car was tailgating and the 2nd police car was tailgating the first police car. I could not detect any reason why the 2nd police car should have even stopped this man unless he called the license plate in and then suspected not having a valid license which I did not see stated that either police officer did this. (Points/retraining/discipline) If the Police Chief know that this happens and does not do anything about it, the Police Chief needs retrained and disciplined. If this has happened they all need dismissed. Also taking your gear off in the police station is unexceptionable as you may need to use your gear at a moments notice. How many times have you forgot your gear? If the Chief allows this, it is time for a policy change.
    Next the incident of the stop itself. The police officer runs up to the car, yanks open the door and tries to drag the man out before his seat beat was even off. Never did he approach the car cautiously, have the individual roll down the window and proceed with due care. Nor was there a 2nd police officer there. This was overly aggressive and did not have to be. Next he goes back and gets the police dog (a weapon)(not needed). Once again overly aggressive. When the 2nd police officer shows up, they manhandle, handcuff the individual and then pick him up and slam him against the police car. The one police officer then is yelling at him and pointing back at the direction that they came from. This person could not see where the police office was pointing as his head was against the hood of the car.
    My evaluation – There is a difference between braking the law or procedure and just plain doing things correctly – both police officers were tailgating, the police officer involved in the stop was angry, over aggressive, did not maintain self discipline, endangered himself and the man being stopped (too much testosterone) and depending on his history, retrained/disciplined/reduced in rank and or dismissed from the police force. The initial tailgating officer needs to be looked at too and disciplined for tailgating. As stated before if the police chief has been allowing this type of police procedure, he/she needs retrained/disciplined and or dismissed depending on that persons history and running of the police department.
    On a side note: all police departments should look at how they do or don’t do things. We called it lessons learned. Evaluate yourselves. Are you getting too angry in police situations, do you take things too far and over react?

     
  11. The only thing that makes sense of the stop — in my opinion — is that they (he) knew who the guy was from the beginning, had an opportunity to take him down, and did it. It went bad, and the only way to justify it was to lie on the report and show the drugs as justification for the extreme actions. My guess is that the audio will eventually be recovered, and that it will show that these people (or two) were all acquainted with each other. Also, in my Alex Jones conspiracy moment, this was not a unique event. They (he) just got caught by a guy who lawyered up and challenged them. If this conspiracy pipe dream is real, Beaver is looking at a lawsuit settlement that will buy this man three more businesses. Please God, I hope I am wrong.

     
    • First clue? Why did he immediately pull open the door with no caution or introduction? He didn’t need one. The cop has lived in New Brighton for most of his life, and this guy owns 3 vape businesses in New Brighton and Beaver Falls. According to Cicco, the cop called him m—–f—–, not license and registration.

       
  12. Your right on the money Raven. JW-R was absolutely already familiar. After this is all done, If I was Mr. Cicco, I would definitely have some safety concerns.

     
  13. Patrolman Jeffery Wijnen-Riems Disgusting actions require termination and criminal charges. This is not the first time this peice of crap has abused and harmed others while performing dutys as law enforcement. When he makes poor choices during traffic stops how can we as the public trust him to make correct choices when some ones life is on the line. The excuse that he left his vest behind is a cheap and unacceptable excuse. That action alone endangers the public. The actions by this officer destroy the public trust and place the department and the superiors whom supervise him at risk for law suits. How long does the public have to wait before he is removed ? do we have to see him murder some one ? If the leadership in the department cannot make the nessary corrections for the sake of public safety then the leadership needs to be removed.

     
  14. Obviously, Beaver (Mayor Tom Hamilton, the Beaver Town Council, Police Chief and Manager Dan Madgar, Sergeant Ken McCoy and the cop Jeffrey Wijnen-Riems himself) are going to wait this one out and not act unless their collective hand is forced to do something.

    Only one ultimate solution has been presented thus far — the write-in vote for Attorney Lauson Cashdollar, for Mayor, on Tuesday, who would fire them all on the first day in office. This is not a personal or political thing. It is a pragmatic solution.

    My guess is that no action is being taken, on the basis of innocent until proven guilty, and that is indeed true, but this deals with decade-long, historical, documented misbehavior and costly repercussions that show no sign of improving.

    I have no particular horse in this race, and the answer is simple, but the solution to all of it is champing at the bit waiting for the gates to open. All you have to do is take a pencil and write the name in. Simple. Otherwise, four more years of the same, and this time YOU will share in the responsibility for it continuing.

     
  15. are police scanner recordings available for the night in question?
    I wonder if it would reveal Blinn and or Wijnen-Riems calling Cicco’s plate in.
    I wonder if Wijnen-Riems said anything on the radio that would indicate he in fact did remember Cicco.
    Probably wishful thinking, that such an easy perjury conviction could finally get him off the street.

     

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