Responding to public records requests from The Sun and other news media, Ithaca Police on Thursday released the mugshot of the Cornell sophomore arrested following an assault in Collegetown that may have been a hate crime.
Police arrested John Greenwood ’20, who is 19, early on the morning of Sept. 15 after a black Cornell student said Greenwood punched him and called him the N-word on Eddy Street. Greenwood has been charged with assault and aggravated harassment, both misdemeanors, and a grand jury will likely decide in the next week whether Greenwood will face hate crime charges.
In the mugshot, which police released on Thursday afternoon, Greenwood appears to be wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt.
The victim, a Cornell junior who previously spoke to The Sun from the hospital on the condition of anonymity, said he was assaulted by four or five white men early in the morning after returning from a party.
“All white guys,” the victim told police, according to documents filed in Ithaca City Court. “I recognized one of them. He was wearing a white shirt, tall, skinny. He wore a red hoody afterwards.”
The injured student also told police that a man wearing a red sweatshirt “was the same one that was wearing a white shirt when he and his friends attacked me.”
Greenwood previously apologized in a statement for using “unacceptable and inappropriate language.” His lawyer, Ray Schlather J.D. ’76, said Greenwood was “in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind” and did not commit a crime.
In a video obtained by The Sun, a man in a white shirt calls a student the N-word multiple times. The student being berated in that video is not the same student who was assaulted, and that altercation occurred about 30 minutes or an hour after the physical assault, witnesses have said.
Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York Committee on Open Government, told The Sun on Thursday that unless a charge is dismissed against an accused person, mugshots should be available to the public.
“So much about the law is related to common sense,” he said.
“When a person is arrested, he or she is arraigned during a public judicial proceeding,” Freeman continued. “That means that his or her face can be seen. Because that is so, our advice has always been — and the only court decision on the issue has confirmed — that the mugshot is public.”
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said the city operates under a policy in which it does not voluntarily release mugshots except when a person is arrested for a felony.
The one case dealing with the issue of mug shots in New York, Freeman said, is the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood of Westchester, Inc. v. Town Board of the Town of Greenburgh.
The Collegetown assault led to a series of protests, largely led by Black Students United, culminating in the group delivering a list of 12 demands to President Martha Pollack and briefly occupying Willard Straight Hall.