Niagara Gazette

Courts

March 4, 2014

Mongielo's city trial gets under way

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — David J. Mongielo was looking for trouble when he drove through a Lockport Police checkpoint for a second time on June 27, a retired officer testified Tuesday, the first day of Mongielo’s Lockport City Court trial.

But, Mongielo’s attorney Frank Housh questioned the lack of a specific policy on traffic checkpoints.

Mongielo is on trial for charges stemming from his run-in with police, among which are unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, unlawful use of a portable device while driving, second-degree harassment, second-degree obstruction of governmental administration and resisting arrest. At a Lockport Police traffic checkpoint on Lincoln Avenue, Mongielo was told to pull over for an expired registration. After an altercation with an officer, he was ordered out of his car and was reportedly thrown to the pavement by officers who then arrested him.

The trial started with testimony of one of the four officers working the checkpoint, now retired Lt. David Barrancotta. Barrancotta told the court all four officers met in a briefing to discuss the location of the checkpoint, which was decided to be Lincoln Avenue. The officers were checking seatbelts, cell phone use, registration and inspection stickers.

Mongielo passed through at about 1 p.m., Barrancotta testified. Mongielo shouted and made a commotion, so to help keep traffic moving, Barrancotta said he was allowed to pass through.

Barrancotta testified Mongielo returned about 30 minutes later and allegedly shouted again at the officers, asking if Lockport had become “Nazi Germany” because of the checkpoint. While slowly driving his truck, Mongielo used his phone to take video of the officers, before Barrancotta noticed Mongielo’s registration sticker and had him pull over.

Housh asked Barrancotta if he though Mongielo was returning, “looking for trouble.”

”Yes,” Barrancotta said.

Housh asked if there were guidelines officers need to follow for checkpoints. Barrancotta said there wasn’t. There’s nothing that explains what to do in every possible scenario an officer could face, Barrancotta said. Officers know what to do based on their experience, he said.

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