Although county officials at a public forum on Mar. 9 at Southside Community Center promised to inform the community about developments in the investigation of Ithaca resident Shawn Greenwood’s shooting, many of Greenwood’s closest friends and family are accusing authorities of keeping updates behind closed doors.
“They’re not really telling us anything,” Cassie Landes, Greenwood’s fiancé, said.
Under state and federal law, authorities are not required to release information about current investigations if it could compromise the confidentiality and neutrality of a case. Releasing sensitive updates could also impede further developments in an investigation.
Sherry Greenwood, Shawn’s mother, expressed her concern that Tompkins County officials are hoping that by keeping the investigation quiet, they can quell the concerns local residents have about police misconduct and the ethics of the shooting.
“Maybe they think it’s just going to disappear, but it’s not,” she said. “We’re not going to let it.”
Former friends of Greenwood are also concerned about the Ithaca Police Department’s treatment of the case.
“This is what I want to know: what is being done about it?” Carrie Allen, Greenwood’s ex-girlfriend, said. “Are these issues being addressed or are they being thrown under the rug? Are they just going to hope the people will let it die down?”
The district attorney’s office could not be reached for comment.
At the Mar. 9 forum, Mayor Carolyn Peterson and IPD Chief Ed Vallely said they hoped security video from Pete’s Grocery would help answer questions about the shooting, including the necessity of discharging a weapon. Greenwood’s friends and family, however, say they have heard little about the findings of the security video or new witness examinations.
The shooting occurred on Feb. 25 as several officers attempted to serve a search warrant on Greenwood in a multi-agency narcotics investigation, according to Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson. They approached the Ithaca resident outside of Pete’s Grocery on West Buffalo Street. Greenwood resisted removal from his vehicle, which prompted the officers to taser him.
Greenwood then drove onto a curb and hit a Dryden police officer. The other officers ordered Greenwood to stop driving, but he continued and Sgt. Brian Bangs fired several shots that killed the 29-year-old man.
Wilkinson was originally heading the investigation, but decided to step down because she has represented and worked extensively with the IPD. The State Police has since taken control of the investigation.
At the forum, Mayor Carolyn Peterson and IPD Chief Ed Vallely said they hoped security video from Pete’s Grocery would help answer questions about the shooting, including the necessity of discharging a weapon. Greenwood’s friends and family, however, say they have heard little about the findings of the security video or new witness examinations.
The allegations of Greenwood’s friends and family also come on the heels of harassment allegations from Amy Crockford, who was arrested by Officer Stephen Moracco for disorderly conduct last May outside the State Diner. She claims that Moracco hit the breaks twice while she was in the back seat of his squad car, forcing her to slam into the Plexiglas.
Surveillance video from the Ithaca Police Department that was released to Crockford’s attorney, Seth Peacock, shows officers laughing and imitating a body banging into the side of the car. Crockford also charges Moracco with mocking her homosexuality and calling her a “fat dyke.”
Further exacerbating the issue is the IPD’s refusal to release documents on police behavior that The Ithaca Journal requested in March through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Greenwood’s friends and family said they wonder whether the Ithaca Police Department and other local authorities are taking these allegations seriously.
Original Author: Dan Robbins