Not long after Danielle Tagger-Epstein, a former City Councilmember, announced earlier this year that she was going to primary incumbent Mayor Josh Cohn in June, was there a dramatic rise in email blasts throughout town. Concerns were being raised regarding whether Ms. Tagger-Epstein “inappropriately used her influence” in 2017 when she was on the Council to “pressure” the Westchester County District Attorney and the City of Rye to drop the charges for a man who was stopped by Rye Police for not having a front license plate, presented his Colorado carry permit which was not valid in New York and was arrested when the officers discovered two loaded semi-automatic weapons in his car.
Rather than rush to judgment, we read the court decision.
In the matter of People v. Rose, Judge George Fufido determined, after listening to testimony and reviewing Police audio and video, that Jonathan Rose had not acted aggressively or been unresponsive to questions from the arresting officer, and that “having a hunch” was not probable cause to conduct a search.
In his decision, Judge Fufido wrote, “There is nothing from the facts presented at this hearing that would lead this Court to believe that Officer Kapus could have reasonably suspected that the Defendant presented an actual danger. Accordingly, the Officer’s pat down search of the Defendant was not justified … no evidence was recovered from the Defendant as a result, nor was anything learned that led to an increased degree of suspicion.”
The Judge determined that the Colorado permit may have created “a link in the inferential chain, but in and of itself does not make such an admission. To find that, the Court would have to also be persuaded that handing over a library card is an admission that there are books in the car or that handing over a credit card is an admission that he had just gone shopping and that the items that he had bought could be found in the car.”
The case was dismissed in court, yet four years later it is back in the news.
Why are residents only hearing now that PBA President Gabe Caputo wrote the mayor in 2018 describing Ms. Tagger-Epstein’s actions as “anti-police” and “unprofessional of a Councilmember.” He added that when she showed up at the hearing, the officer found her presence “intimidating”.
In an hour-long conversation with Ms. Tagger-Epstein, she said she only wanted to help Mr. Rose, a single parent whom she’d met on the Rye Moms Facebook page who was the father of a child with special needs.
“I was concerned for him and I brought the matter to Josh Cohn’s attention in 2018 because I was also concerned that there was a chance of police misconduct in the matter after hearing Jonathan’s side of the story. There was nothing of special interest or beneficial to me,” she asserted.
The case is closed but continues to fester because many are upset that Tagger-Epstein, who is a proponent of gun control, would write a letter to the Westchester DA asking for this case to be dropped.
Mayor Cohn is running on what many see as a strong record and supporters of his re-election are out in force, as are defenders of Tagger-Epstein’s honor.
Meanwhile, there is a primary in our future and many residents hope that both contenders soon address the everyday issues facing the City, from repairing the roads to traffic safety.
- Robin Jovanovich