For many years we have published story after story of small-town police departments and officers allegedly terrorizing its residents with threats of being tasered, beatings, head-stomping, and arm breaking arrests at the hands of the very people who are sworn to protect and serve them. Unleashing attack dogs on compliant citizens is also, unfortunately, a very real part of that list.
Beaver, Pennsylvania has a population of just over 4,000, with one of its residents being James Cicco (34). Cicco told his lawyers he has been harassed by police in the past, so when Beaver Police Officer Jeffrey Wijnen-Riems attempted to pull over Cicco for a traffic violation, the man decided the best place to pull over would be at his home.
Cicco’s lawyer, Geraldo Benyo, told reporters it only took 13 seconds to pull over, and that his client was being compliant for the entire duration of the traffic stop which took a violent turn for the worst. Wijnen-Riems can be seen in the dash cam footage approaching Cicco’s car.
“The video does depict Mr. Cicco getting out of his vehicle with both hands palms out and raised and then he only retreats into his vehicle as officer releases the K-9,” Benyo explained.
He opened up Cicco’s car door and then began to attempt to extricate the man from his small SUV. However, we consulted with a close-quarters hand-to-hand combat expert who concluded Wijnen-Riems tactics were not standard procedure.
The officer can be seen placing Cicco in a painful wrist-lock which has the potential to break the man’s wrist. The patrolman then began cranking his arm behind his back, another move intended to break either the man’s arm or dislocate his shoulder.
According to our expert, at no time did the officer attempt to unbuckle Cicco’s seatbelt and drag him out of the car. It appears Cicco unbuckled his own seatbelt, at which time the officer then flung him to the ground.
Instead of placing the man in handcuffs, he went back to his vehicle and released his attack dog, a German-Shepherd. As Cicco sees the dog approaching, he jumped back into his car and shut the door, as anyone afraid of police attack dogs may do.
Once again, Officer Wijnen-Riems opened the car door, this time aided by his dog, who began to viciously attack him, biting him under the arm, in the armpit, exposing gaping wounds. He bit his back as well.
The small-town police officer, who some are now calling a bully, then charged Cicco with multiple charges including fleeing and eluding and driving without a license. Cicco fought the charges and his case was brought to trial. The jury could not agree on a verdict, ending the court case in a mistrial.
The district attorney reportedly said he would not retry Cicco, and now the man is suing for having his civil rights violated in an apparent excessive use of force.
“This entire incident resulted over an aggressive police officer who was upset because on the way to non-emergency call Mr. Cicco didn’t get out of way fast enough,” Benyo said. The lawyer said his client’s fears of police brutality, “Turned out to be pretty accurate with having the fear.”
After obtaining the dashcam footage, the Beaver Countian also obtained audio of the officer’s call. In the audio, the cop is heard joking about the damage his dog inflicted on Cicco.