Tuesday, December 22, 2009
On Dec. 22, 1994 - 15 years ago today - Anthony Baez, a 29-year-old Florida resident, was choked to death by a police officer on Cameron Place in University Heights, near where his parents lived.
Baez had been playing football with his brothers in the early hours of the morning, when their ball hit a police car. Police Officer Francis X Livoti jumped out and told them to go home. They refused, and as Livoti tried to arrest them, he grabbed Baez around the neck, asphyxiating him.
Livoti was acquitted of criminally negligent homicide in 1996, but found guilty in 1997 of violating Baez's civil rights. He served six-and-a-half years in jail.
The 46th Precinct - where Baez was killed - is no stranger to police brutality. In 1987, there was Eleanor Bumpurs; in 1995, Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega.
Today, the police and the community have a better relationship. The Four-Six has a popular commanding officer, Inspector Kevin Harrington, and the precinct's monthly community council meetings are always well-attended, a sign perhaps that cops and local residents are communicating and willing to share their concerns.
But problems remain: while serious crimes are down again this year, civilian complaints are up. We'll have more on this in the January issue of the Mount Hope Monitor.
Photo: A mural on the building Baez's parents used to live in. In 2000, this street was dual-named Anthony Baez Place.