Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Day 1: Recap

UTICA - Several witnesses took the stand today in the murder trial of the man accused of killing a Utica Police Officer.

Wesley Molina Cirino is accused of killing Officer Thomas Lindsey during a traffic stop on April 12 of last year. Several police officers, EMTs, a 911 dispatcher and the Utica Police Chief took the stand today. Chief C. Allen Pylman was only up there a few minutes - the defense attorney didn't even cross examine him.

Chief Pylman basically verified Officer Lindsey's position and length of employment at UPD. Jurors also heard from the first two police officers to reach Officer Lindsey after Lindsey was shot. Officer Lindsey had pulled over a man named Sammy Rivera when Molina-Cirino is accused of walking up and shooting the officer.

Today, the officer who pulled over Rivera shortly after the shooting took the stand, testifying that Rivera was visibly upset, crying and pleading, and that the first thing Rivera said to officer Fernalld as the 2 walked toward each other was quote, "I didn't do it."

Toward the end of the day, the jury heard police emergency radio transmissions. They heard Officer Lindsey's last words: "5-7 Code Four." 57 was the officer's assigned police cruiser the night he was shot. "Code 4" means everything's ok - the situation is stable.

It was about 7 minutes later that things took a turn for the worse - David Poccia, one of the first officers to respond to the shooting, radioed back, "We've got an officer down!"

A voice was then heard yelling "Send UFD!" and another UPD officer, a sergeant, yelling "Expedite 'em! Expedite 'em!"

Defense Attorney Rebecca Wittman kept the promise she made during opening arguments that there'd be many witnesses she wouldn't question at all.

They blew through 10 witnesses Tuesday, wrapping up earlier than expected at around 4:10 p.m. They'll be back at it 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Officer Lindsey will take the stand.

Joleen Ferris contributed to this report. Dave Dellecese will be blogging live again tomorrow.

Day One: Adjourned for the day

Judge Barry Donalty has adjourned for the day. Jurors and attorneys will return to court first thing in the morning.

We'll be here with more moment to moment blogging updates.

Day One: Cross-Examining Kupec

Trooper Jeffrey Kupec, who was working the Utica 911 Center the night of April 12 is being cross-examined by the defense. Kupec was a UPD officer at the time.

Defense shows him a radio log of the times of the calls he previously testified about. He explains that he assisted in the transcription of the calls that were played.

Christine Cole, one of the callers, is brought up, along with the spelling of her name...that perhaps it isn't Cole at all. Kupec agrees that this is possible.

Defense points out that Kupec's notes say that there were 3 occupants in Rivera's car when pulled over by Lindsey, even though the call says "unknown occupants."

The D.A. follows up asking what Kupec heard on the recording.

"Do you hear Thomas Lindsey's voice saying unknown occupants, not three occupants?" the D.A. says.

"Yes, I do," Kopec responds.

The recording is then played again and the court hears Thomas Lindsey saying "unknown occupants." Kupec is then excused.

Day One: Tears fill the courtroom as voices of Lindsey, officers who discover him, played

Radio Traffic is then played for the court. This is obviosuly different from the civilian calls that came in that night.

The license plate number of Rivera's car - DYG 1394 - is heard being read by Thomas Lindsey as stopped the car over, giving them a "Code 4."

Numerous other officers are then heard all responding to the dispatch of shots fired, and Officer Armstrong makes note that they've gotten several calls about shots fired.

Officer Poccia can be heard shouting "we've got an officer down!" as he approaches the scene.

As the voices are heard, the eyes of friends, family, and fellow officers tear up as they all try to fight back the emotion of hearing Lindsey's voice followed by the tragic events that followed.

As they run the license plate number after the events, the recording tells us that the car actually belonged to Naomi Diaz, not Rivera.

The recording stops, and almost the entire court room wipes their eyes, be they officers or civilians.

Day One: UPD Comm Center calls played for court

Trooper Kupec, who was working the UPD Communications Center the night of April 12, 2007, has verified the evidence brought up by the D.A. - a recording of the civilian calls coming into the Communications Center that night.

A power point presentation on the disk shows a subtitle of the actual phone conversation.

After verifying the authenticity of the recording and the transcription, it is asked to be played by the D.A.

The recording is played and a woman by the name of Christine Cole is the caller. This call came in 9:23 p.m., before Officer Poccia's calling in of "Officer Down." Cole, a Neilson resident, called in that she heard shots fired near Neilson and Eagle Streets.

Cole explains that she is at 1103 Neilson and heard shots fired and a car drive away.

A UFD call is then heard, where Firefighter Carcone hears a Rebecca Brown call in that she heard a car peel out with no ID.

Carcone then took another call where someone said they heard shots "over by the Parkway, near Miller and South."

Carcone then took another car with a hysterical caller saying "i heard gunshots and now there's a cop down." Carcone responds "they're on their way."

Carcone calls for Rescue 1, Engine 3 to get to Neilson Street for a call of Officer Down.

A recording of an Officer Armstrong then took calls minutes later for someone on Neilson also hearing shots fired.

Numerous other calls or partial calls from the Utica 911 Center are played, all repeating the same thing - that either shots were fired, or that people had found an officer down. In some of the calls, police noise can be heard in the background from the calls, already on the scene as residents called in.

Day One: UPD Comm Center became busy after "officer down" call

NYS State Trooper Jeffrey Kopec has been called to the stand. Before being a State Trooper, he worked for UPD.

In April of 2007, he was still with UPD, and at that day in April, he was assigned to the communications center, a rotating assignment. This is what the D.A. describes as "Utica's version of 911."

Kopec says that the calls that come in are also recorded, similar to the Oneida County Emergency Services 911 Call Center.

Kopec was working the 4 p.m. to Midnight shift that night.

He is stopped, and asked to slow down for the translator.

Kopec says that he received a radio transmission from a Utica Police Patrol Car that night - Lindsey in Car 57. Lindsey called in a motor vehicle street, Kopec said. Shortly after that, Kopec said Lindsey called in a "Code 4," which the jury is reminded is a general term for "I'm okay."

Kopec says he shortly after received a 911 call from a civilian saying she had heard shots fired near Eagle and Neilson Streets. Kopec dispatched several units to the scene, and not too long afterwards received a call from Car in 44 which was in Zone 59. It was Officer David Poccia, who had called in "officer down."

Taking the information from the traffic stop Lindsey had just called in, Kupec ran the plate number through the DMV database, coming up with Rivera's name and address.

Once the call of the officer down came in, Kupec said the lines lit up as more and more calls came in.

Day One: 911 calls played for court

The abandoned call is played for the court.

In it, you hear the voice of Haynes saying "911, what's your emergency?" to no response.

She then received a call from a female caller named Melissa Adams saying there was an Officer Down at 1125 Neilson Street in the City of Utica. Haynes describes the caller as scared.

That call is then played for the court, with no objections from the defense.

Adams, scared and frightened, explains that she heard shots and sees an officer down outside her house. She says "I'm so scared," to the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher reminds Adams not to go outside, and Adams, scared and frightened, repeats to the dispatcher what she sees and how scared she is.

Defense has no questions.

Day One: Abandoned 911 call came in that night

The jury has returned to their seats, and Judge Donalty to his bench.

Gail Haynes has been called to the stand. Haynes is employed at the Oneida County Emergency Services 911.

The translator has asked Haynes to speak slower for the translation.

Haynes describes her work area as 5 consoles set up every day and additional consoles not used every day but in case of emergencies and major storms. By console, she means a desk with a phone system set up on it.

The phone system is in addition to a radio transmission system that allows her to transmit to emergency services and fire, police officials.

She testifies that everything is recorded in real time and kept for 90 days on a computer system hard disk. Unless that information is preserved, it is erased after 90 days, she says.

Haynes worked as a 911 operator from 4 p.m. to midnight that night in April that Lindsey was shot. At 9:44 p.m., she was working, she said, when around that time she got an incoming call from a private individual via 911.

After a description of what an abandoned 911 call is (when they pick up and no one's there). She says if a call comes in abandoned from a residence and they can't get a connection again, they will alert officials.

Haynes says that she received a 10-15 second abandoned call from a cell phone. No one spoke on the call before it hung up, but this abandoned call was recorded.

The D.A. shows paperwork offered in evidence that shows the number that the particular cell phone call came from and what cell tower it hit off of.

This particular call came from number 315-266-8150, Haynes said. A recording of the call is then brought up by the D.A., and is objected to by the defense. The judge allows it.

Day One: 911 calls to be heard after short recess

A short recess is taking place while the D.A. sets up some equipment for their next round of evidence and testimony.

As they were setting up equipment, someone hit play in the courtroom, starting a 911 call.

So, it appears that after the recess, we will be hearing 911 calls from that night.

Day One: Chief Pylman says Lindsey liked working Zone 57

Chief C. Allen Pylman has now taken the stand to testify. Pylman has been Chief of Police for 6 1/2 years. Pylman describes 170 people in employment on the force in Utica. He says Thomas Lindsey was hired in October 8, 2001, and continued to be an officer right up until his death.

Pylman says that in August 2006, Lindsey was assigned to a more pro-active police work, with a limited number of officers. In this work, they'd handle tobacco and alcohol violations, prostitution, etc. In January of 2007, Lindsey returned to routine patrol. Pylman says that the Zone 57 was a Zone that Lindsey liked to be working in his patrol.

The D.A. kept their questions brief for the Chief, and Defense had no questions.

Day One: "Ishmael Rivera" last words written in Lindsey's notebook

At the morgue, Officer Cucharale put the body in a particular secure area, caged with locks, used for securing bodies for evidence. The key is then turned over to the person who would be going to the autposy, which in this case happened the following day.

The D.A. shows the Officer an issued weapon, a .44 caliber handgun issued to Thomas Lindsey. The D.A. then pulls out another item, which Cucharale identifies as Lindsey's notebook, carried by most officers to often take notes. The last entry in the book reads the name "Ishmael Rivera."

That notebook was found with Lindsey's other belongings while Cucharale was at the hospital. It was then placed into evidence.

Cucharale says that there was no odor from the gun that would indicate it would've been recently fired, and the gun had a fully-loaded magazine.

Defense has no questions.

Day One: Officer called in to secure ST. E's ER room where Lindsey was

Officer Joseph Cucharale takes the stand to testify. He has been a patrolman, he says, for 14 years.

He says he was not working that day in April, but was called in to work after 10 p.m., reporting directly to the UPD Headquarters, where he was directed to St. Elizabeth Medical Center to secure the room in the ER where Officer Lindsey was worked on.

Cucharale says that when he had gotten to the station he had learned Officer Lindsey was dead. Upon arrival at the hospital, he requested some sheets and covered up Lindsey's body.

There were items such as his duty vest, duty belt, boots, socks, swipe card, notebook, calendar, handcuffs, and other items belonging to Officer Lindsey in the room, which Officer Cucharale collected.

All these items - including Lindsey's gun - were secured, and photographs were taken for evidence. Once the items were collected and the photos taken, Officer Cucharale said that he transported the body to the morgue in order to secure evidence. Two employees from teh hospital , one of which was a security guard, accompanied him to the morgue.

Day One: Officer Fernalld didn't identify Rivera

The defense now cross examines Officer Fernalld, pulling out some of the same evidence used by the D.A. that Fernalld identified, including the box of now empty Newport Lites. Defense asks if the Newport Lites were empty when he found the box in his patrol car.

Defense also pulls out the baseball cap said to be worn by Sammy Rivera. Officer Fernalld tells the defense he has no doubt that Rivera was wearing that hat when he shouted "I Didn't do it!" to the officer on John Street.

Defense also pulls out the jacket which the prosecution brought into play said to be worn by Rivera and asks the officer if it is exactly the same or if there seem to be any changes, buttons missing, etc. Defense attorney Rebecca Wittman has some trouble getting the jacket back into the evidence bag, but receives assistance from the proseuction.

Defense asks if while at John Street if Officer Fernalld realized he was dealing with someone he had dealt with a month prior at an accident scene.

Defense asks what other observations the officer made about the individual coming toward him outside the church that night on James Street. He describes him as 5'9", not heavy-set, with curly hair. This differs from earlier officer testimonies of Rivera being "chubby." Officer Fernalld says he can not recall whether Rivera was clean shaven or not.

Defense can't remember if Officer Rizanovic, who earlier testified, or any other officer had told him that Rivera was the driver of the vehicle.

Two bags of marijuana and the bag of crack is brought up by the defense, along with the bag of empty bags found on Rivera's person. Defense asks the officer if the materials found are often associated with the selling or dealing of drugs, which he agrees to.

Officer Fernalld says that it was several hours later that he saw Rivera at the police station, where Rivera was using the bathroom. He says that at that time no one asked him to identify Rivera.

Day One: Officer Fernalld had prior encounter with Rivera

Officer Fernalld says that he has had contact with Sammy Rivera in the past, just a month prior on March 7 at the scene of a property damage accident. He also recognized Naomi Diaz from that March 2007 accident scene.

The D.A. then brings out an aerial photo of the 800 block of John Street, and asks him to point out where he turned around before making the stop at the church on John Street where he found the Red Neon later found to be driven by Sammy Rivera.

He says that he never saw Sammy Rivera come out of the church, although other people HAD come out of the church when he arrived at the scene. he earlier testified that Rivera was outside the Red Neon when he arrived to the scene.

The D.A has no further questions for Fernalld.

Day One: Blood, brain matter found on side of car door

Officer Stanley Fernalld has taken the stand. He says he is in his 4th year as a Utica Police Officer. He says he is assigned to a uniformed patrol division. He was also working 4 p.m. to midnight that night in April, like many of the other Police witnesses on the stand today.

He says his Zone that night was North Utica. He was patrolling that zone without a partner, he said. This Zone (Zone 58) is not his normal zone, but he explains that he, like several other officers get rotating zone shifts.

He says that night he was by the recyclying center on Wurz Ave and Leland Ave, working on reports in his car when he heard a radio transmission about a vehicle stop. Fernalld says that shortly after hearing about the red neon traffic stop, he then heard the call of shots fired.

Fernalld says he then moved toward Genesee Street, but was not dispatched to Neilson Street. He said he just moved to Genesee Street to be closer to the scene if needed. He says he was on Genesee when he heard another radio transmission, this one of "officer down."

Upon hearing this, the officer says he then put on his lights and sirens and headed swiftly toward the Neilson Street area. It was on his way that he heard the BOLO (Be On the Look Out for) for the red Neon. He says he headed down John Street in Utica, when he observed a Red Neon on the side of the road facing north, and travelling at a high rate of speed, he sped past the vehicle. However, he says he did notices a male and female of hispanic descent were standing in the road with the driver side door open.

Fernalld says he turned around believing it to be the suspect vehicle, parked his car and then he approached the male and female outside the car. He said the male pleaded "I didn't do it" as Officer Fernalld approached.

Fernalld drew his weapon and ordered them to the ground, and he says he let headquarters know he was "out with the suspect vehicle." He says that it was only about 10 seconds that transpired from him exiting his car to the male and female being ordered to the ground.

At this time, other people had exited the church on John Street. The Officer says those people did not interfere and that he did not ask THEM to get to the ground; only the original male and female he found at the scene.

The Officer says his sergeant then arrived at the scene, and while she kept other people away from the area, he frisked the male and found no weapons. He describes the male as wearing a dark colored hat, baseball cap, and jeans.

After frisking the male, Officer Fernalld says the male and female were handcuffed and it was at that time that two ziploc bags fell from the male's person, which looked, to him, to be marijuana. Another ziploc contained several empty, smaller, ziploc baggies.

A parole officer who had since arrived to the scene, helped remove items from the male's pocket, which included a baggie with an offwhite chunky substance, which the officer said he recognized as crack-cocaine.

Officer Fernalld says at this point, he still had not learned the identity of this person.

As the male and female were being taken into custody, Officer Fernalld said that the male yelled "a black guy in a hoodie did it." When taken back to the patrol vehicle, Fernalld said the male remained in a hysterical state.

The D.A. has handed over a brown paper bag to the officer, which the officer says is an evidence bag. The officer pulls a baseball cap out of the bag, which he identifies as the hat recovered from the male suspect that night.

After that, the Officer remained on scenem securing the "crime scene" on John Street.

Officer Fernalld said that the scene was "chaotic," with numerous officers joining him at the scene shortly after the arrest. He said that it was pointed out to him at the scene (though he could not recall by whom) that there was blood and pieces of brain matter on the side of the Neon's door.

At a later point in the evening, Officer Fernalld went back to his patrol vehicle, he said, where he found what the D.A. referred to as "items." Handing over another evidence bag to the Officer, he finds a pack of Newports, and a New York State Benefits Card.

The D.A. asks if the items were placed in his patrol car by him. He says no, and mentions that the benefit card belonged to a Naomi Diaz. He then says, after being asked by the D.A. that he later learned the identity of the two people he had handcuffed and arrested as Naomi Diaz and Sammy Rivera.

More evidence begins making its way out as the D.A. presents Officer Fernalld with more brown bags and asking him to look inside. The Officer pulled out a jacket worn by Sammy Rivera when the Officer stopped him and arrested him.

Day One: Paramedics in such a hurry, supplies left in street

Daniel Yates, the Kunkel paramedic, who was at the scene of Neilson Street the night Officer Lindsey was shot, is now on the stand.

He says that Lindsey wasn't breathing at the time they had reached the scene, but that he did have a pulse. He says they put Lindsey on the heart monitor, and put a breathing tube down Lindsey's throat.

He said they noticed that Lindsey DID have a weapon on him, still in his holster. The gun was removed for the safety of the paramedics.

On the way to the hospital, Yates says they were ventillating him to facilitate breathing, as he was not breathing on his own.

Upon reaching St. Elizabeth, Yates said he stuck around even though Lindsey was then handed over to the care of doctors at the Medical Center. He says doctors worked on Lindsey for an hour before they pronounced him dead.

Yates was shown a photograph of the scene, which included blankets they used at the scene for covering Officer Lindsey. He describes Officer Lindsey's body as being about 5 feet away from the police car. From the photograph, that 5 feet appears to be around the middle of the street.

Paramedics were in such a hurry, Yates said, that they actually left medical supplies behind on the street, which were shown in the photograph.

The prosecution says they have no further questions, and defense has no questions, so Yates is excused.

Day One: Recess draws to a close

We are slowly drawing to a close of the roughly hour-long recess that has been given. There is talk that Utica Police Chief C. Allen Pylman will take the stand this afternoon, but nothing to confirm if this will, in fact, happen today.

Chief Pylman has been seen the past few minute, in full dress-uniform, hanging to the back of the courtroom, so it does seem possible.

Day One: Officer Poccia Cross-Examined

Defense attorney Rebecca Wittman asks Officer Poccia if he had seen anyone fleeing the scene either by foot or by vehicle from the scene, to which he responds "no."

This is a question that she has asked every officer this morning who said they responded to the scene.

She asks if Poccia was involved in the transportation of anyone arrested that night who gave depositions at the police station.

Poccia's deposition has now been handed over to him by Wittman. She asks him to recall something he said in it, which he responds was not in his deposition, but was in a different document.

She asks him if he was the one who canvassed the area at 11:30, which he says he was.

A recess is then taken until. 1:55 p.m.

Day One: Those outside at scene saw nothing

Officer David Poccia has taken the stand, and states he was working with Officer Nash that night. He says Nash was the driver that night.

He recalls the evening's events, and says that as they heard the radio transmission about the shots fired on Nielson Street as they were en route to a traffic stop in the same area, Nash turned on the lights and sirens and headed to the scene.

Prosecution asks if Poccia recognizes the aerial photograph of the 1100 block of Nielson Street, showing the direction in which he and Nash made their way to the scene.

He says that as they reached Nielson, they could see the emergency lights atop Officer Lindsey's patrol car flashing, and that it was the only vehicle on the block at that point. He recalls, they saw a figure on the ground, which as they got closer, he says, it became more recognizable as a police officer.

Poccia says that Nash then shouted "It's Tommy!" as they, in their own patrol car, got closer to the scene. Poccia then radioed to headquarters that an officer was down.

He says he kneeled down to Officer Lindsey and "could see it was pretty bad." He says he observed the same trauma Nash described.

When asked if he noticed if Lindsey had his gun on him at that point, Poccia can not recall. As he kneels down near him, Poccia says he noticed people on a porch of a nearby residence. Poccia says that he went up to the people and questioned them, and asked if they had seen anything. He said they responded that they had heard the shots fired, but hadn't seen anything.
Poccia says that while he was doing this, Nash was with Officer Lindsey, and the two had attempted to perform CPR until the Kunkel Ambulance had arrived.

He describes Lindsey as being quickly removed from the scene, and says he then noticed a Jonas Patterson and Calvin Brown standing nearby on the corner of Mortimer. Poccia asked them if they had seen anything, to which they responded "no."

Poccia says he then talked to residents, none of which were able to provide any information other than that they heard the shots.

Day One: Officer Nash saw no one leave the scene

Officer Nash is asked about the people he saw on the porch. He says there were roughly 2 or 3 people on the porch.

Defense asks more about there response to what they saw, which he reiterates, was nothing. She asks about his response to the scene, originally being for the traffic stop back-up.

Nash says that by the time he got there the "shots fired" call had gone out. Defense asks if he had seen any individual on foot or by vehicle, leaving the scene.

Day One: Officers Nash and Poccia found the body

Patrolman Jeremy Nash has taken the stand. He says he has worked with UPD for 3 1/2 years.

He says he was working the 4 p.m. - Midnight shift that night in April, assigned to Car 59, which is a City Wide car, much like Rizanovic's. He describes it as a car that can be dispatched anywhere in the city, unlike a Zone car, which has a particular area to patrol.

He says he was with Officer Poccia that night, when he heard a radio transmission from Officer Lindsey, who he had known for 2 1/2 years at that point. He says that Lindsey had called in the traffic stop, and then Nash completed the sector check in Proctor Park and proceeded to Lindsey's location to offer backup.

Nash says that there is often a sense of more urgency in backup response for traffic stops in "high risk" areas, such as Zone 57.

He says that while in route, he heard the "shots fired" call in the same area Officer Lindsey was in, thus speeding up his response to the scene.

Nash is then shown the aerial map of the 1100 block of Nielson Street. The prosecution then points out Eagle Street and Mortimer Street.

When arriving at the scene, he saw Lindsey's emergency lights on the vehicle, but no car in front of the police vehicle. Upon approaching the vehicle, Nash says that he looked to his left and saw a body laying on the ground.

"At first sight, no...as i got up next to the body, i could tell it was Officer Lindsey," Nash said.

Nash then told Officer Poccia who it was and they radioed that an officer was down, and ran to the body, which he says was on its back, with his arms at the side, his head facing northeast.

Nash said he called out to Officer Lindsey, heard a slight gurgle, saw the officer's eyes move, and that was it. He said he yelled to people out on a porch if they had seen anything, to which they said no.

He then stayed with Officer Lindsey and noticed trauma to the right side of the head, which he says appeared to be a gunshot wound and brain matter.

Nash says he then started a canvassing of the area and suggesting checking out the computer in Lindsey's patrol vehicle for any names recently ran through that might help the investigation.

Nash describes Lindsey as someone who followed procedure meticulously. Prosecution now shows Nash some photographs of the interiort of Lindsey's vehicle from various angles. Nash says that when he went to check the computer screen in Lindsey's vechile, that the screen was illuminated, with information on the screen.

Prosecution then tried to show a picture of the information that was on that screen that night. Though the photograph was fuzzy, it showed a check on a warrant for Ishmael Rivera for an open container.

Day One: Rizanovic couldn't identify Rivera

Defense attorney Rebecca Wittman questions Rizanovic about his inability to identify the driver of the Neon.

When asked if to this day of Sammy Rivera, is in fact the driver he saw, Rizanovic says "no."

She says that when he gave the officers his statement of events, that he gave the same statement today about what he COULD see about the driver. When she asks him if she got a clear look at the driver during the stop, he says "It was a BRIEF stop."

"But it was a stop," she says.

She emphasizes, and he agrees, that he was able to see the face of the driver, which he described as a white male, or a light-skinned hispanic male, 25 years old. He says that in his deposition that the hair looked black and curly, close-cropped.

He says that he was not able to accurately identify the clothes the driver was wearing, saying possible a denim shirt or jacket.

Wittman asks him how much time passed between him leaving Lindsey at the scene of the traffic stop and getting the call of "Officer Down," but Rizanovic can't remember.

When she asks how much time it took him to return to the scene, he says 30 seconds. Wittman then pulls out an aerial map of the City of Utica used earlier. She asks him to identify Mohawk Street, and then the intersection of Mohawk and Eagle Streets. He does so on a digital map that allows marking that the jury as well as attorney's can see on a large monitor.

He then shows where Eagle intersects Nielson, reiterating his statement that he said it took him 30 seconds.

He says he observed nothing on his way over there. Specifically asked if he saw anyone fleeing a scene, he responds "no."

He testifies that Lindsay's Zone was always Zone 57. She asks if Lindsey had any routine that would put him in the area of Nielson between 9 and 9:30 p.m. He is then excused from the stand.

Day One: Rizanovic takes the stand

Officer Rizanovic has now taken the stand and is being questioned by the prosecution. Rizanovic drove a city-wide patrol, and heard the radio call from Lindsey about the traffic stop that night in April, along with a message of "unknown occupants" in the car.

Rizanovic says that he responded for backup, something that they always do when there are "unknown occupants." He proceeded from Elm Street where he was to Nielson and Mortimer where the traffic stop was called in, a trip that took about 30 seconds, he said.

Rizanovic recalls Lindsey calling in the description of the Red Dodge Neon, seeing Officer French go by the scene as well.

Rizanovic says he waited at the scene, saying "Hi" to Officer French as he drove by. He spoke to Lindsey, teasing him about how far away from the curb he had pulled the car over. He said that Lindsey told Rizanovic "I'm all set." Rizanovic says he took this to mean that Officer Lindsey was all set.

Rizanovic says that he had known Lindsey for a long time, even training with him, and that he had backed up Lindsey numerous times before at traffic stops, but that this particular rainy evening, he did not back him up, because Lindsey had said he was "all set."

Rizanovic then proceeded Northbound on Nielson, passing the Dodge Neon, saying he observed a white male, 25 years old, puffy cheeks, black hair in the car as he drove by, but that the individual was looking away from him at the time.

Rizanovic then went to the area of South Street when he heard a dispatch to 1100 block of Nielson Street, where he just was, for a call of shots fired. He says he turned around and went back, with lights and sirens. On his way there, he heard a radio transmission of "Officer Down," which he says means an officer has been shot.

He proceeded to the scene, and upon arrival, he says he stood by, watching a lot of police vehicles on the scene, and awaited directions.

The next radio communication he heard, he said, was the BOLO for the Red Dodge Neon, that Officer Lindsey has just stopped. He then heard that the vehicle had been stopped on John Street...which he describes as about 15 seconds from the 1100 block of Nielson Street.

Arriving at John Street, he saw the Red Dodge Neon and numerous police vehicles, he said. He describes the scene as "chaotic," and says that while he had no confirmation, he had an idea, based on just passing him on the same street, that Lindsey was the officer down.

When asked by prosecution, he describes Lindsey's demeanor just minutes before as "relaxed."

Officer Rizanovic then says he was asked to take an elderly woman to the station at that point, which he proceeded to do.

He says that upon seeing Sammy Rivera, he told police that it was not the driver vehicle he had seen.

Day One: Cross-Examining Patrolman Brian French

Rebecca Wittman is cross examining Officer French, asking if he's always Car 51. He says no, that his car and zone changes.

She asks if Zone 57 is a busy or dangerous section? He says "Busy, yeah." Zone 57 encompasses a good portion of the Cornhill Area in Utica.

Wittman reiterates Officer French's inability to clearly see Rivera during his driveby of the traffic spot.

She now is talking about role call, and any habits, patterns that might have put Lindsey at Nielson Street earlier in the evening. She, like the prosecution before, asks if there was any communication between French and Officer Lindsey be it via radio or discussion. French says no.

She asks if French had heard a "Code 4," at some point. He says "No."

She then asks if any procedure requires him to call in making a drive-by to "check up" on another officer's stop. He says no, only if he stops to assist.

Wittman brings up that at some point French learned of Rivera being under arrest, but when asked if he had ever been showed a photo of Rivera, he says "i'm not sure." The same answer when asked if he was ever shown a photo of Cirino.

At John Street, he did not see an individual beign taken into custody. Later at the station, he says, he saw Rivera in custody but could not tell if it was the driver of the car stopped by Lindsey.

She brings up French's deposition, that in it he described the driver of Lindsey's stop as a "chubby, white or hispanic male, clean shaven." Wittman asks him to be more specific about Rivera's description, but French says he can't.

She once again asks if when she drove by if he had any communication with Lindsey or just a gesture. French responds "just a gesture." She then asks about distance between him and the Neon as he went by, to which he says about 10 feet.

Prosecution then asks if shone any light on the driver as he went by or if the French had seen anything other than the driver's profile as he drove by, or if he had came to a full stop, emphasizing that French had coasted by, unable to get a good look.

The Officer then moves down from the stand.

Day One: Patrolman Brian French Testifies

French tells the proseuction he has been with the UPD for 3 1/2 years, and is currently assigned to patrol division.

French says he worked 4 p.m. - Midnight on that day in April when Lindsey was shot. The City of Utica is divided into a series of zones, we're told. He was in Car 51, which is Zone 51 - Downtown Utica.

French says he was on patrol around 9 p.m. at Eagle and Kembell Streets that night. That night, he says, he saw Car 57, which he knew to be Lindsey in that car that night.

French says he knew Thomas Lindsey. French says that at the scene, he saw Lindsey's car at Kembell Street at a light, with another car in front of him. French then followed them both onto Park Ave from Eagle Street.

He said he did so just in case Lindsey needed backup, as it is an area that might ordinarily need backup. He says that Lindsey and the other vehicle then went on to Rutger Street. When it appeared to French that Lindsey was not going to pull over the vehicle, French headed onto Hopper.

As the prosecution (A.D.A. Coluzza) decides to show evidence, the Judge explains what "entering in" evidence means to the jury.

Coluzza shows the Patrolman an overhead map of the City of Utica. On the map, Patrolman French is asked to point out where he first encountered Lindsey's vehicle. After readjusting focus so the officer could read the street names, the officer indicates Eagle and Kemball on the map, and then shows the route Officer Lindsey's car took after the light.

French says that a radio call from Lindsey indicated a vehicle stop some time after he French had seen him at the light.

French says that Lindsey gave the number of occupants in the stopped car, and French then proceeded to the scene of the stop to offer backup assistance, even showing on the digital map the route he took to get to Officer Lindsey at the time. He is having some slight trouble, as the map doesn't have all the street names on it.

French says that as he went by, he made eye contact with Officer Lindsey, who turned around and saw that it was French. French says Lindsey did not seem in distress at all, and shook his head to indicate French could continue on his way, that no help was needed.

French then proceeded onward, and noticed another patrol car coming down the street as well - driven by an Officer Rizanovic.

French says that as he continued onward, he got an urgent call about shots fired in the 1100 Block of Nielson Street where he just was. He then turned around to head back to the scene. While he was driving, French says, he heard another officer call "Officer Down," which caused him to drive even faster to the scene.

French says that he was on South Street when he heard an investigator on the radio say Nielson Street needed to be shut down, and once they gave out the license and registration number of the vehicle Lindsey had jsut stopped, the address came back as an owner at Seymour Ave. Officer French then headed to Seymour Ave, but then heard that another Officer had the vehicle stopped elsewhere.

Upon arriving, French says several units were already there, and an investigator was there with a female, who was placed into handcuffs and put into a patrol car.

French says he had learned Officer Lindsey was dead, but does not quite recall how the knowledge came to him exactly.

The prosecution saw Sammy Rivera at the police station, but because he had not gotten a clear look of Sammy Rivera when he drove by Officer Lindsey's traffic stop, he did not recognize him.

Day One: Testimony Begins...

The recess is over. The people have now called Patrolman Brian French of the Utica Police Department to the stand as their first witness. He is beign sworn in now.

Day One: A short recess before testimony

Defense Attorney Rebecca Wittman has ended her opening remarks to the jury, and with that, the judge has granted a small recess before the first witness is called for testimony.

Day One: Defense; "Rivera is a liar"

Wittman says it doesn't matter what the police think, or what the rest of the world thinks. That it doesn't matter what she and the prosecution argue as they interpret testimony.

"It's all about the witnesses...and you," Wittman tells the jury.

While Proseuction said Rivera was important, but not the be-all-end-all witness in this case, Wittman tells them that the people's case DOES revolve around Sammy Rivera being the driver of the Red Neon being alone in the vehicle, with the exception of the baby.

She says that because of Rivera's problems and "lack of telling the truth," that he will "spin" his retelling of the event so much that "you will believe his story."

Wittman says the Prosecution wants the jury to feel sorry for Rivera that "he had to witness this, that he had to be arrested."

She goes on to say that the prosecution themselves will say that Rivera was lying, and with that "the smidges start coming out of the woodwork." She tells the jury to ask themselves if this testimony shows them that the 2 minute window from a "Code 4" to Lindsey's death allowed for a "planned execution."

Wittman then asks the jury not to allow the witnesses to blur together, to listen carefully, and to remember that those testifying are "not to bear false witness."

"If you lie about the small things, you will most certainly lie about the big things," she said. "And it does not get any bigger as a police officer getting shot and falling on your car."

She then asks them to remember if they woke up and picked up the newspaper or watched the news and saw that Lindsey had been killed the night before.

The translator continues to translate all of this to Flaco, who just watches his attorney speak.

Wittman says that many people woke up that morning and "knew what happened, and knew who did it." She then goes on to say "Does knowing what happened mean you did it?"

Day One: Defense; "Small Window of Time"

Rebecca Wittmann, defense attorney for Flaco, is now making her opening statements.

She was also the defense attorney for Toussaint Davis in the murder trial of New Hartford Officer Joseph Corr last year.

She is thanking the jury for listening to proseuction in what is a "complicated" case. She says that if she is not speaking to her client, it does not mean she doesnt' want to, it is to not distract the translator.

"I don't have to prove anything, I don't even have to speak right now," Wittman says.

She starts with what WON'T be disputed:

*Lindsey was tragically shot during traffic stop in Utica
*But for that traffic stop, he would be here today
*That Lindsey died from a gunshot wound to the head. "As far as i'm concerned, we could be rid of all the medical testimony," Wittman said.
*That he died in the course of trying to keeping the streets of Utica safe

Wittman says the people NEED to present all that evidence, because if the jurors are horrified enough by what happened, she said, that if they feel enough sympathy for what happened, that if they can make Flaco seem a "Diabolical, killer," that the prosecution's case "can't hold up to a jury."

She says "clearly, this was no accident."

One officer, overwhelmed with emotion, just left the room.

Wittman says there was a small window of time for this incident to have taken place with Flaco as the shooter...that the window is so small that it could not have been "a planned execution."

Day One: Prosecution: "This is not Law and Order; not CSI"

Prosecution continues to make its opening remarks...

She says that after giving someone a ride home after work, Rivera drove to a residence looking for a friend named "Spider." When he couldn't find him, she says, Rivera went to buy marijuana.

This puts the time around 9 p.m., with Rivera travelling to Nielson street, she says. She says Rivera will tell the jury that he rolled through a stop sign near Eagle Street, and that is when Lindsey pulled him over by Eagle and Mortimer Streets.

She says that Lindsey's police car was directly behind Rivera's Neon around 9:16 p.m., when Lindsey walked to the Neon and asked Rivera for his license and registration. She says Rivera told him he had no license, but handed over registration and insurance. At the time, she says, Rivera gave Lindsey the name of his brother - Ishmael Rivera - who lives no where near here.

She says that he did this because Rivera says he was afraid there was a warrant out for his arrest. As Lindsey checked the name, then went back to the car, Lindsey told Rivera that Ishmael had a warrant out for him for an open container. As a result, she says, Lindsey said he would have to take Rivera back to the station to pay the $100 fine or be locked up. She says that Rivera then made several attempts to call his girlfriend who was at church, to tell her of the situation. Naomi did not have a cell phone, however. Lindsey then called Michelle Augusta, who was at the church service with Naomi.

Lindsey tells Rivera he'll "help him out," and will follow him to church where he can drop off the baby in the car to Naomi, and then come with him to the station. She says that as this conversation takes place, Rivera will say he sees Lindsey flinch, look to his right and then three shots.

She says Rivera than sees Lindsey's body fall and hit the door panel of the car. Immediately afterwards, she says, Rivera will say he saw a dark skinned male standing nearby, with a gun, pointing it at Sammy Rivera.

She says "the man pointing the gun at Rivera is THIS defendant - Wesley Molina Cirino." She says Rivera says he then put his head down and drove off, with no words spoken.

She says Rivera will say he then drove away and straight to the church where he got Naomi Diaz, so nervous that he forgot baby Luis was asleep in the car.

It was while the car was at the church that an Officer on the way to the Nielson Street scene spotted the Neon and then turned around for it, she says.

She says that when police questioned Flaco on this shooting, he was in on an outstanding warrant in Onondoga County.

She says while waiting for a resolution to his charges in Onondoga County, Flaco reached out to the D.A.'s office in that county, Flaco tried to make a deal for his charges there by saying he could offer information on Lindsey's shooting back here.

So, he then sat down with nvestigators in Onondoga and Oneida County investigators to share the information he had on the shooting, which she says were video and audio taped, which the jurors will hear.

She says there will NOT be a lot of forensic evidence. "This isn't law and order, this isnt' CSI, this is reality." She says there are no fingerprints, no DNA, and no murder weapon.

"Realistically, ladies and gentleman," she says. "criminal cases are often solved by old fashioned police work. this case is based on testimony."

She says that testimony will put Flaco 1 1/2 blocks from the shooting, as well as inmates from Onondoga Justice Center and Oneida County Jail, and things he said while there, regarding Officer Lindsey's Death.

Day One: Prosecution; "Sammy Rivera"

Prosecution says that Sammy Rivera made it clear to officers that he was an eyewitness to the shooting, but was unwilling to give information of the identity of the shooter. She says all Rivera would say was that "the shooter was a black male wearing a white hoodie." She says that he knew "much more," but "failed to give that information to police."

She says that the main reason was that he was afraid for his family's safety, and of the police. She says he didn't trust the police, as in the hours following the death of Lindsey, the officers "treated him as if HE were Lindsey's assassin."

She said that for eight days, Rivera stuck to the story that he was an eyewitness to the shooting, but had no more info on the shooters identity.

That changed eight days later, she said, when, after Rivera consulted with two attorneys on the drug charges he faced, finally disclosed the identity of the shooter. Prosecution then pointed to Flaco, saying "THIS man...Wesley Molina-Cirino...also known as Flaco." saying Rivera was once a friend of Flaco.

She tells the jury to listen carefully to what Rivera says, as he is an important witness.

"Truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction," she tells them.

Day One: Prosecution; "Keep an Open Mind"

Proseuction continues its opening statments, saying that it was the 800 block of john street was where an officer found the neon parked, with a hispanic male and female standing near it. She says that as he approached the car, the male told him "I didn't do it," and as he was arrested, crack cocaine was found on his person.

She says that this male was Sammy Rivera, and the female - Naiomi Diaz, his girlfriend.

She asks the jury to think of all the officers working that night as they heard the words "officer down." She says they must have been thinking that whoever was in that Neon must be the one responsible for "assasinating our officer, our friend, our brother," saying that they must have assumed Rivera was the shooter or connected with the shooter, telling the jury the officers' judgement was blinded by the incident; that they had never dealt with anything like this before.

Prosecution says the officers were "in shock," "hysterical," and "angry." She says that the killing of Officer Lindsey was extremely personal. He was their friend, she says. "Officer Lindsey was their brother," she adds.

She asks them to keep this all in mind as they hear testimony from civilians over the next few days, saying they will hear things about some of the conduct of some of the officers invovled in the case in the hours following the shooting.

"please keep an open mind," she said.

Day One: Prosecution; "BOLO"

Prosecution continues to talk about the numerous law enforcement agencies who helped get Officer Lindsey to St. Elizabeth Medical Center to try and save his life, to no avail.

She describes Utica as "chaotic" after Lindsey was found and brought to the hospital.

She says they will hear of a BOLO (Be On the Lookout For), to look for the Dodge Neon that Lindsey had pulled over.

Day One: Prosecution; "Code 4"

Opening statements have begun.

The prosecution is discussing Code 4, a police term, meaning that everything is okay. THe situation is under control. In a short time from now, she says they will learn that on April 12, Office LIndsey called out a Code 4.

She says the evidence will show that at the very moment he called a Code 4 that it appeared the situation was "code 4," that it WAS under control.

She says that it didn't take long for things to change, telling the jurors that Lindsey was shot in the head from side, the bullet exiting the other side.

She says Officer Lindsey was assigned to car 57. She says that Lindsey had worked that area (The Cornhill area) before. She says that he had worked that time shift and that area often.

He called out that a red doge neon ,dyg3194, unknown occupants at corner of nielson and mortimer. less than 2 minutes later, he called out code 4, meaning things were under control. She says that evidence will show that around 8:15 p.m., 2 officers went to the location where the neon was pulled over to see if he needed help; something that is standard procedure.

She says that this is often used in areas considered a "high crime area," which that area of Nielson Street is.

Prosecution says that through testimony they will hear officers say that Lindsey was walking away form the neon to his vehicle with paperwork in his hand. She keeps repeating "Code 4, ladies and gentleman, code 4." She asks them to listen to these to Officers carefully: Officers French and Officers Sabanovic, as they drove by him shortly before the incident.

She says they will say Lindsey was relaxed and waved both officers on, not in need of their assistance.

She says just moments after those officers moved on, that calls came in to the 911 call center that shots have been fired at Nielson Street. Several officers were dispatched to the area.

She says that during the trial we'll hear some of those 911 calls regarding the shots fired. She says we'll also hear from the first two officers on the scene after the shots fired - Officer Nash and Officer Poccia. She says they are the ones who found Lindsey mortally wounded laying on his back just a short distance from his patrol vehicle, parked int he middled of the 1100 block of Nielson Street, still running, with the spotlight sitll activated.

Upon their arrival, she says, both Officers Nash and Poccia found the body, and immediately Poccia radioed to headquarters saying "Officer Down."

She says that in the blink of an eye, "the world of the Utica Police was changed forever."

Day One: Translating

As Judge Donalty addresses the jurors as to the differences in evidence, what is their opinion, and what are facts, a translator sits next to Flaco, explaining everything that is being said back to him, since Flaco does not speak English.

Day One: Beyond a shadow of a doubt...

Judge Donalty is explaining to the jury that they must treat him as innocent unless beyond a reasonable doubt the attorneys can prove that Flaco is, in fact, guilty. He has also reminded him that opening remarks of the attorneys can not be taken as fact.

He's now explaining what cross examination is.

Eyes of most of the officers have not left Flaco since he entered the courtroom.

Day One: Jury enters

The jury has just been brought in and are taking their seats. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to find a jury of people who have NOT heard, read, seen, things about this case...

Judge Donalty is now expressing to the jury as to what their responsibilities are and how they must make their decisions without prejudice and based only on the evidence alone.

After this, the attorneys are supposed to begin their opening arguments...

Day One: Fellow officers

I see Officer Dzenan Sabanovic ... who recently took part in his own court proceedings after being assaulted on James Street...among the officers in attendance today.

Day One: Flaco enters

Here he comes. It's odd seeing him in a shirt and tie. And he seems to have gotten a haircut since the file video that we've seen of him with the rather large hair. It's a short curly cut.

It's easy to see why they call him Flaco now. He truly is an incredibly skinny individual. In his white shirt and blue tie...with some kind of colorful pattern on it...can't tell what...he jsut took a seat next to Rebecca Wittmann, his defense attorney.

Public Safety Commissioner Daniel LaBella has joined Chief Pylman at the rear of the room, along with some other officers.

The judge is discussing evidence, that include aerials of Nielson Street and photos of the scene, Exhibits 3-51.

Day One: Almost Flaco...

Judge Donalty has just told us that we can not take down or setup equipment except for at recesseses...

Everyone is moving in anticipation of the arrival of the trial's namesake. Flaco's on his way...

Day One: Numerous Officers Arrive

Wow. In the short time it took me to plug the laptop in (battery went down to half power in no-time....how is it we can send people into outer space but we can't make a laptop battery that lasts longer than an hour? Hmmm. Something's wrong here.)

The room now has more than one half filled with uniformed police officers, and the rest filled with either family or law enforcement officials in civilian clothes. Deputy Chief Pasquale Benzo is here now, and Chief Pylman is hanging back by the doorway. The more they move through normal calendar, the more anxious they all seem to become to move forward with the Cirino trial.

Day One: Here comes the judge

They're begun running through normal calendar, and in just a few scant minutes, the room has filled with family members and co-workers of Officer Lindsey.

Chief Pylman greeted Lisa, Lindsey's girlfriend, with a wave. You can feel the tense vibe surrounding everyone connected with Officer Lindsey as they sit here. It's a combination of dread of reliving these events...mixed with a somber sense of relief.

Judge Donalty has arrived at his desk and is running through his normal calendar. They seem to be moving through things rather swiftly. It's obvious they want to get to Flaco as soon as possible and get the ball rolling.

Day One - Arrivals

Chief C. Allen Pylman just arrived, along with a few other officers in their uniforms. Once they get through opening arguments, Chief Pylman is among the first of the witnesses scheduled to testify. He's looking for a place to sit. He's got his pick of the litter right now...other than he and the handful of officers with him, there's only the few people here for normal court calendar still and that's about it.

Rebecca Wittman has a large box of papers she just placed under her desk and is trying to get herself organized at the defense table.

Lindsey's girlfriend, Lisa, just arrived, with some other people.