Early on the morning of December 12, 2004, 17-year-old Andrew Caspi had a run-in with Rye police officers on Boston Post Road near the high school football field.
By Mitch Silver
Early on the morning of December 12, 2004, 17-year-old Andrew Caspi had a run-in with Rye police officers on Boston Post Road near the high school football field. More than ten years later and just a half mile up the road, the Rye City Council voted on the evening of March 11, 2015 to settle the lawsuit arising from the incident, a settlement that will cost the City $475,000 on top of the hundreds of thousands it has already spent in legal defense fees.
The officers and defendants, Anthony Rosace, Franco Campagnone, and Michael Anfuso, continue to insist they did nothing wrong in the arrest of Caspi for Disorderly Conduct, Resisting Arrest, Assault in the Second Degree, and Obstructing Governmental Administration, all charges that were eventually dismissed. The fracas, though, resulted in the youth sustaining a broken facial bone and other injuries.
Before the unanimous show of hands to accept Mayor Joe Sack’s recommendation, Councilman Terry McCartney, a trial lawyer himself, described the risk the City faced in going to trial. “It’s incredibly expensive to prep a trial. They’re working around the clock at the five law firms involved. In addition to the $645,000 already spent since 2007, we could be looking at another $300,00-$400,000 in additional fees. And that’s not counting what the judgment might be if we lost the case.”
A recent turning point in the case occurred when Rye Police Lt. Robert Falk, who was moving offices, discovered an unopened document addressed to him marked “personal and confidential.” The letter, dated four days after the Caspi incident, was from Sgt. Alvin Ortiz, the supervisor on duty that night. He stated, among other things, that P.O. Rosace had “anger issues.”
In addition to the settlement, the Council instructed City Manager Frank Culross to consult with Police Commissioner Bill Pease to review the policies and procedures regarding police incidents, whether those procedures were followed in the Caspi case, and what new policies ought to be implemented. There was no formal investigation by the department into the case in 2004 or at any time since.
At the March 11 meeting, Councilman Richard Slack said, “A Police Department investigation shouldn’t be discretionary; it should be mandatory. It’s not acceptable.”
Afterwards, City Manager Culross said discussions with Pease, who was not Police Commissioner when the incident occurred or, later, when the lawsuit was initiated, were already underway. Pease concurred. Asked whether the three officers faced consequences from their actions, he replied: “At this point in time I cannot answer questions regarding the Caspi case.”
Caspi’s lawyers, James Timko and Christopher Weddle of the White Plains firm of Timko & Moses, will receive $300,000 to defray their attorney fees and $50,000 in other costs; the plaintiff will receive $125,000. Andrew Caspi did not respond to a request to comment on the outcome of the case.
Joseph Anthony Maria, an attorney representing the City of Rye and the Rye Police Department, did not respond to the paper’s request for comment.