Niagara Gazette

August 12, 2013

New court battle for Lockport sign guy

BY JOE OLENICK
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A local auto shop owner known for his sign battle with the Town of Lockport has filed a lawsuit against the city for an alleged incident of police brutality on June 27.

David J. Mongielo filed the suit Friday in State Supreme Court stating Lockport police officers exceeded their jurisdiction in his June arrest. He was arrested at a seat belt checkpoint on Lincoln Avenue.

The lawsuit was filed against Lockport City Court, city Judge William Watson, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano, attorney Joel Grundy, Police Officers William Jones, Kevin Lucinski, David Barrancotta and three unnamed officers.

Mongielo, 46, was charged with two counts of obstruction of governmental administration, resisting arrest, driving an unregistered motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone and second-degree harassment. During the arrest, Jones sustained abrasions to his left knee, police reported.

Mongielo was roughed up as well, according to court documents he filed. In those documents, Mongielo said Jones, "physically bound plaintiff, using brutal force to inflict harm, did twist plaintiff's arm behind his back causing severe pain ... Officer William Jones threw plaintiff to the pavement with so much force, that the plaintiff's shoe flew off and his head rammed into the pavement causing severe injury."

According to the police incident report, Mongielo was stopped about 1:50 p.m. June 27 for driving with an expired registration at the checkpoint. Officers said he was uncooperative and refused to comply with requests to provide information. When told he was under arrest, Mongielo began to struggle, according to the report.

Mongielo said the officers were on the wrong side of Lincoln, which from Beattie Avenue to just past Davison Road serves as a border between the city and town. Officers were randomly pulling people over, which isn't allowed by law, Mongielo charged.

"All they were doing was harassing people," he said.

According to court documents, Mongielo passed through the checkpoint twice. The first time through Mongielo was asked to pull over, but was let go shortly thereafter. Mongielo was not charged with any violations and he did question why he was being pulled over.

Thirty minutes later, on his way back to work from home, Mongielo passed through the checkpoint again. Police asked him to pull over when an officer noticed the motor vehicle registration wasn't fastened properly to the windshield.

Mongielo said he complied with the request but again questioned police, asking them to explain what crime he had committed. He had his cell phone in hand when an officer approached his vehicle because he wanted to use it to record their interaction.

In court documents, Mongielo claims he was forcibly removed from the vehicle by an officer and aggressively taken down the ground.

Mongielo is seeking damages of $50,000 for a false arrest, $25,000 for violation of due process and $500,000 for physical and psychological damages, as well as medical costs.

In the court filing, Mongielo said Watson entered a not gulity plea for him but said he does not accept the plea. The city court has no jurisdiction, Mongielo said, because it was created by state statues which he said are not law.

Mongielo is in the middle of a court battle with the town concerning the electric sign in front of his business, Mongielo’s Auto Specialties on Robinson Road. He is accused of violating the town’s electronic sign ordinance that prohibits signs from changing the format or message more than once every 10 minutes. Mongielo is due in October to return to Lockport Town Court concerning that case.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.