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DA Charged NRPD Detective Vaccaro With Attempted Assault, PBA Pissed!

District Attorney Mimi Rocah Says No One Is Above The Law

The Westchester County District Attorney’s Office charged Michael Vaccaro with attempted assault in the third degree, Thursday, June 17th in connection with an incident that occurred in New Rochelle on February 15, 2021.

Vaccaro, a New Rochelle Police Department (NRPD) detective who was off-duty at the time of the incident, witnessed a domestic dispute involving a Mount Vernon man and his mother. Uniformed NRPD officers subsequently responded and while they were taking the man into custody, Vaccaro physically inserted himself into the arrest by striking the man multiple times with his fist, attempting to kick him, and pressing his face into the pavement. 

The NRPD determined that Vaccaro – a 16 year veteran- had acted inappropriately, suspended him, and referred the case to the DA’s office for further review. They evaluated the evidence – including a review of police reports, video surveillance, a cellphone video recording, and recorded calls made to NRPD — and determined that Vaccaro’s actions warrant charges of attempted assault in the third degree, given the repeated physical blows and the fact that other uniformed police officers had the suspect and the situation under control at the time.

Vaccaro reported to the DA’s office Thursday morning for processing and was issued a desk appearance ticket to return at a later date for arraignment.

“It is important to note that other NRPD officers who were present at the scene acted appropriately and attempted to stop Vaccaro’s actions,” DA Rocah’s office said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring the integrity of law enforcement personnel and to holding everyone accountable for their actions, including police officers when warranted.”

New Rochelle PBA President Christopher Greco shared his disapproval of the DA’s action in a statement.

“The New Rochelle PBA is outraged that the Westchester County District Attorney has decided to bring “attempted assault” charges against our brother member, who we know was acting within the scope of his employment, did not use excessive force and acted within the parameters of the law. This decision is simply wrong.

Police work is often ugly and violent, but police officers, including Officer Vaccaro have a sworn duty to act and a lawful right to protect themselves. In this case, had Officer Vaccaro ignored the crime in progress the outcome for the intended victim could have been much worse and perhaps today Officer Vaccaro would be accused (and possibly arrested) of dereliction of duty.

The suspect, who continued to struggle with police, resist arrest and continued to ignore lawful commands, was subsequently placed in custody and arrested.

The statement went on to say;

Officer Vaccaro and other officers were required to use reasonable, necessary, and justified force to bring the suspect under control.

The New Rochelle PBA has continually indicated that we will do our part to speak out against police misconduct and we welcome sensible police reform. However, this is not such a case, and the New Rochelle PBA will spare no expense and will utilize every resource available to defend and exonerate Officer Vaccaro from this politically motivated referral, politically motivated arrest, and continued attack on law enforcement.

The Westchester County District Attorney has sent a clear and extremely risky message to all of law enforcement in Westchester County – that the DA will personally decide what is acceptable and what is not, rather than determine what is lawful and what is not. The arrest of Officer Vaccaro, along with anti-police legislation and rhetoric only serves to inspire criminals, weaken law enforcement and leaves society in danger.

We are living in a time where the District Attorney is hunting cops while leaving many true crime victims searching for justice.

Mount Vernon PBA President Nicholas Mastrogiorgio also shared his displeasure in a Facebook comment to Greco’s statement.

“Absolute disgrace this DA is destroying Police Departments. Getting charged with a crime for doing your job is completely totally sickening. She should strap on a vest and get in a car and walk a mile in our shoes before she passes judgment on good cops doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

District Attorney Mimi Rocah who refused to accept any campaign donations from any PBA’s when running for office last year, responded to Greco’s statement.

“While the New Rochelle PBA is entitled to its view of the facts, there is no place for the type of inflammatory and irresponsible language used which crosses a dangerous line,” DA Rocah shared with Black Westchester in response to the New Rochelle PBA President Greco’s statement. “I have a long history of working with and strongly supporting law enforcement and work with them every day to keep Westchester safe. But no one is above the law, and in those rare and unfortunate cases where the facts and law warrant bringing charges against an officer, my office will do its job – just as the NRPD did its duty in suspending the officer and referring the case to us for investigation. In this case, as in every case, we will follow the facts and evidence and present our case to the court. The defendant will then have his chance to make his arguments in court to a judge and the judge will make a determination based on that evidence and testimony.”

The city previously suspended Vaccaro for 30 days without pay after calling his actions “inappropriate.” Vaccaro a white NRPD is accused of striking a Black man multiple times with his fist, attempting to kick him, and pressing his face into the pavement.

The New Rochelle Police Department had immediately referred the case to the District Attorney’s Office for investigation and on Thursday said it had provided prosecutors with all the reports and evidence related to this incident.

“The District Attorney’s Office has apparently decided to proceed with criminal charges,” the department said. “It should be remembered that Detective Vaccaro should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This Department will be suspending any further disciplinary action in the matter pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings.”

Minister Mark McLean, the New Rochelle NAACP chapter president, stands in support of DA Rocah’s actions. He told Black Westchester this sends a strong message that law enforcement will be held accountable. 

“If confidence and trust are to be restored in our police departments than the community must be assured that justice for all is indeed an integral part of the criminal justice system,” McLean said. 

Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story.

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About AJ Woodson (2267 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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