Federal prosecutors are getting a second crack at Buffalo Police Officer Corey Krug.
And Krug, already acquitted of using excessive force in two other incidents, will get another chance to clear his name.
In the same downtown courtroom where he was first tried, the 18-year police veteran will again face allegations that he assaulted Devin Ford on Chippewa Street during one of the biggest party nights of the year.
And to make its case, the government will again rely on a WKBW-TV video showing Krug confronting Ford on that Thanksgiving Day morning in 2014.
“No one is above the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John D. Fabian told the jury Wednesday. “When you look around this courtroom, no one here is above the law and that includes the defendant Corey Krug.”
Prosecutors claim Krug used his nightstick to slam Ford against the hood of a car and drive him onto the ground before using it to repeatedly strike him in the legs.
The video, handed over to Buffalo Police, led to an FBI investigation and a civil rights prosecution charging Krug with using excessive force against Ford and in two other incidents, as well.
The jury in the first trial before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara acquitted him on all three charges tied to those other incidents but couldn’t agree on the charge related to Ford.
In his opening statement Wednesday, Krug’s lawyer argued that it was Ford and his friends, not Krug, looking for trouble that night.
“They were doing more than getting ready to party,” said defense attorney Terrence M. Connors. “They were preparing to fight.”
Connors also went out of his way to suggest that Krug’s use of force was justified and reasonable, and he asked the jury to consider the environment on Chippewa that night – a large and rowdy crowd, many of them intoxicated.
He also argued that Ford, despite claims to the contrary, was never seriously injured and waited nearly a month before going to the FBI with his complaint against Krug.
“He never goes to the emergency room,” Connors said. “He never sees a doctor. He never even makes a complaint.”
Fabian said the government will produce photos of Ford’s injuries, not to mention the video of his confrontation with Krug.
“Like a battering ram, the defendant tackles Devin against the car and then to the ground,” he said. “After taking him to the ground, the defendant put his knee in Devin’s groin and abdomen area and began striking him with his nightstick.”
The second trial means Ford will again take the witness stand to talk about his encounter with Buffalo police that November morning more than four years ago.
And Krug, as he did in the first trial, is expected to attack his accuser’s credibility by suggesting he has anti-police bias and a history of criminal behavior.
A few days after the first verdict, Ford, who is suing the city over his encounter with Krug, was arrested in Lackawanna on a minor marijuana possession charge.
Krug, who is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law and is currently on suspension, could lose his job on the force and go to prison if convicted.
His defense team will include Herbert L. Greenman and Nicholas A. Romano. The prosecution will be headed by Fabian and Aaron J. Mango.
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