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Nate Buckley Prepares to Sue NFTA

Nathaniel “Nate” Buckley, the 26-year-old Buffalo man whose trespassing and governmental obstruction case was thrown out of City Court by Judge John Fiorella in December, filed notice of a claim against the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Thursday. Buckley was arrested by NFTA police outside the M&T Bank’s Fountain Plaza offices in April 2011 during a political protest, and charged with refusing to leave bank property when asked, “trespass,” “obstructing governmental administration,” and “resisting arrest.” Both amateur pedestrian video and, as Fiorella noted in his decision, images from the bank’s own cameras, showed Buckley was on a public sidewalk when confronted by NFTA police, and then struck and pepper-sprayed by the arresting officers. Fiorella’s decision stated that the conduct of these officers was “repugnant to this court’s sense of justice.”

Buckley’s notice of claim, filed with the NFTA according to provisions of New York law, contends that Buckley is entitled to relief “for malicious prosecution under the common law and the New York State Constitution.” It names officers Richard Russo, Adam Brodsky “and on information and belief,” NFTA Chief George Gast, Detectives Christopher DiPasquale, Dave Wayne, and Sergeant Joseph Cantanzano, “for initiating and/or continuing” false charges against Buckley.

The notice, written by and transmitted to the NFTA on Thursday by Buckley’s attorney James Ostrowski, notes that Fiorella’s dismissal of charges stated, “as to the evidence of guilt…this court found none.” Buckley is claiming “pain and suffering, anxiety, humiliation, detention, loss of liberty” and expenses he incurred. The notice does not cite a specific claim of monetary damages, as is usual in these initial actions.

Last year, Buckley told Artvoice that even after he’d been assaulted and subdued by the officers and put in a police vehicle, they continued to insult and threaten him with further physical punishment. About two and a half years ago, Brodsky’s testimony in a trespass case against a man he arrested in the NFTA’s downtown bus terminal was dismissed as unconvincing by City Court Judge James McLeod, who acquitted the defendant.

Sources close to the case told Artvoice this week that Buckley still hoped to obtain documents from the New York Inspector General’s office that might shed light on the officers’ alleged misconduct.

Buckley’s two attorneys for the City Court proceedings, Daire Brian Irwin and Michael Kuzma, are assisting Ostrowski.

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