September 27, 2010

Reward Doubled for Leads In Sgt. Bangs Arson Case

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The cash reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who set fire to the home of Ithaca Police Sgt. Bryan Bangs’ house doubled last Friday with an anonymous donor’s $10,000 pledge.

Ithaca Police Chief Ed Vallely said that the contribution came from a “concerned citizen of Tompkins County who wishes to remain anonymous,” according to the Ithaca Journal.

The donation came just three days after the Ithaca Police Department and the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association first announced a $10,000 reward for information on the ongoing investigation last week.

The contribution raises the stakes in IPD’s effort to find the perpetrators of the July 10 arson, which the New York State police concluded was a murder attempt.

Bangs’ house was set on fire shortly after a Tompkins County grand jury found no basis for criminal charges against Bangs, who shot and killed Ithaca resident and drug suspect Shawn Greenwood, 29, last February. Bangs and several other officers attempted to apprehend Greenwood outside Pete’s Wine & Liquor, where he tried to avoid arrest by driving onto a curb and knocking a police officer to the ground, according to law enforcement. Greenwood continued accelerating toward the police officer, at which point Bangs shot him.

The shooting exposed perceived rifts in the Ithaca community between the Ithaca Police Department and some members of Ithaca’s Black community.

The Tompkins County grand jury exonerated Bangs because — according to a report by Weeden Wetmore, Chemung County district attorney and special prosecutor for the case — Bangs fired to prevent Greenwood from running over the other officer.

Forensics teams determined that Tasers in Greenwood’s clothing failed to shock Greenwood. Testimony from 26 witnesses and 233 exhibits showed Greenwood in possession of 55 grams of cocaine at the shooting.

After the shooting, many Ithacans alleged issues of racial profiling and abuses by the IPD during a heated forum in March.

Several groups — including the Ithaca Common Council, Ithaca Police Benevolent Association and Community Leaders of Color — released independent statements denouncing deliberate violence against Bangs.

“We have racial and class segregation in Ithaca. The poor urban neighborhoods, black and white, are the ones under supervision,” Ithaca resident Anthony Galucci told The Sun in August.

Original Author: Jeff Stein