Today, Thursday, June 11th, just days before the Democratic Primary, after several months the Westchester County District Attorney’s office finally arrested MVPD Officer Ryan Hughes for using excessive force on a black woman while in custody.
Mount Vernon Police Officer Ryan Hughes was charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree, Thursday, June 11th.
Flanked by his lawyer – Bruce P. Bendish of Goodrich & Bendish in White Plains – officer Ryan Hughes turned himself in, to the Westchester District Attorney’s Office in White Plains, where he was charged with reckless endangerment after allegedly manhandling a woman in his custody, who was handcuffed and couldn’t break her fall when she fell.
“This is a case where, sadly, a police officer has tarnished the reputation of his department and law enforcement officers everywhere,” said Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino. “Use of excessive force, or corrupt actions by any police officer, is a crime and will be prosecuted.”
According to a statement received by DA Scarpino; The charge stems from an Aug. 24, 2019, incident inside the Mount Vernon Police Department building. The complaint alleges, P.O. Hughes pushed a woman in his custody into an interview room with sufficient force that she tripped over a small garbage pail and stumbled across the room. She struck the far wall made of cinderblock and fell to the ground. Because the woman was handcuffed, she was unable to break her fall. Before entering the interview room, she was clearly intoxicated and complaining of injury. She subsequently received medical attention.
The District Attorney’s Office tells Black Westchester they received an MVPD videotape in January 2020 as part of a discovery disclosure for the underlying case. The DA’s office states their office immediately commenced an investigation which entailed seeking medical records and interviewing witnesses. Subsequently, the investigation was hampered by the Covid-19 restrictions. The underlying charges against the victim were dismissed in Feb. 2020 according to the DA’s office.
But Ryan Hughes’ lawyer, Bruce Bendish, the Republican candidate who ran against Scarpino for Westchester District Attorney in 2016, is one of many suggesting the arrest was politically timed for just before the upcoming Democratic primary. Bendish says the officer would be vindicated.
“This incident happened in August of 2019. His body cam was given in pursuant to procedure immediately,” Hughes attorney Bruce Bendish shared with Black Westchester. “We have been advised that the video was released to the DA in September of 2019. We have always contended no crime was committed. This is not a situation where a crime was committed and a defendant says he did not commit it. This is a situation where no crime was committed. When Officer Hughes gets his day in court, we are very confident that the truth will come out and he will be exonerated. Ryan Hughes has been a police officer with an unblemished record for 7 years. We will let the public draw its own conclusions why now, after some 10 months, and after being criticized for inaction, right before a hotly contested primary, the District Attorney has charged Ryan with this misdemeanor.”
For months Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and MVPD Commissioner Glenn Scott have been calling on the DA’s office to act on police brutality & misconduct cases and to charge & arrest bad cops who act out. The Mayor said in a statement, the use of excessive force on a citizen of Mount Vernon will not be tolerated. These actions further sow distrust within the Mount Vernon police department, which under the new leadership of Police Commissioner Glenn Scott, has focused on community-policing and best practices to combat crime.
“We are very disheartened that this action took so long. The videotape is clear, and we hope that real resources will be put behind this prosecution. We have no problem turning over police brutality & misconduct cases to the State AG’s office, or to any federal investigative authority, or doing any of the investigations in house that we need to do. We will actively root out bad police officers. We need the DA’s office to actively prosecute any officers who don’t represent our community. Bad cops must go.”
Critics of Scarpino have spoken to Black Westchester also questioning the timing of the arrest. BW has been critical of how Scarpino has been lax in prosecuting and indicting law enforcement for police criminality in multiple-municipalities in Westchester. Some pointed out to us there are questioning the timing of this arrest since the last police officer arrested was the day before the Wednesday, January 29th Westchester Democratic Convention where Scapino narrowly won over challenger Mimi Rocah.
James Ready of Putnam Valley – a former Mount Vernon Police Officer was arraigned, Tuesday, January 28th, following an indictment by a Westchester County Grand Jury for assaulting a defendant in his custody and other charges. At the time, Ready was a probationary officer with the Mount Vernon Police Department. He is no longer with the department.
“With the outbreak of civil unrest, following the killing of George Floyd, the City of Mount Vernon has remained steadfast in its commitment to better police/community relations and eliminating bad cops within the department, as well as, celebrating officers who serve with honor every day,” Mayor SPH shares with Black Westchester.
The District Attorney’s Office informed BW that their Public Integrity Bureau and Criminal Investigators conducted the investigation. The Public Integrity Bureau will prosecute the case.
In compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6, Black Westchester advises that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Black Westchester has learned that Officer Hughes has suspended without pay pending criminal charges but a case created in the MVPD in case the DA’s office fails to do their job the second time around.
Officer Hughes received a desk appearance ticket and was released. He is scheduled to re-appear in two weeks on Thursday, June 25th (two days after the Westchester Democratic Primary).
Also check out MVPD Commissioner Glenn Scott Sets The Record Straight.