Death of India Cummings to Be Addressed Town Hall To Call for End to Neglect, Torture and Death in the Erie County Holding Center

A Town Hall To End Neglect, Torture and Death in the Erie County Holding Center will be held on Thursday, July 14 at the Buffalo & Erie County Central Library, Conference Room, 1 Lafayette Square from 5:30 –7:30 p.m. Hosted by the Buffalo Anti Racism Coalition,  B.L.A.C.K Rochester and Concerned Citizens of WNY,  the mysterious death of 27-year-old India Cummings, one of many who have died while in custody atthe Erie County Holding Center, will bea major focus.

“India was a healthy young African American woman from Rochester NY when she died of injuries that have yet to explained after 16 days in the custody of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department. These injuries clearly were sustained atthe Erie County Holding Center, which is under the supervision of Sheriff Timothy Howard,” stated organizers. “Almost four months have passed since her body was sent for autopsy. The results have yet to be released to her family or their attorney. India’s death is one of almost 30 that have died while in custody. It also occurred after the scathing 2009 Federal Department of Justice Lawsuit that charged Sheriff Howard and the County with failing to protect inmates and provide adequate mental health and physical care.” 

The following elected officials and stakeholders have been invited to convene on a panel and address the concerns of the community: India Cummings’ Family Attorney Matthew Albert Esquire; Sheriff Timothy Howard; Peace Activist and Scholar Chuck Culhane; US Attorney William Hochul Jr, ; Erie County Legislator Honorable Betty Jean Grant; Mayor Byron Brown; Senator Charles E. Schumer; Charley H. Fisher III.

For more information contact the Buffalo Anti Racism Coalition or B.L.A.C.K. at

Is A Cover-up in the Works?

        Betty Jean Grant

        Betty Jean Grant

Release TheTape of Brutal Assault on Prisoner

I am sure by now all have heard about, but not seen, the video detailing the brutal beating of a handcuffed suspect who was pushed head and face first into a metal door in the police cell block lockup. Perhaps caught unaware or because his hands were restrained with the cuffs and he could not catch himself in time, he proceeded to hit his head on a ledge or shelf when he fell face first and unresponsive to the floor. To make matters worse, he was then dragged along the floor, feet first, into an empty cell, hitting his head for the third time when his face and head hit the bottom frame of the cell's door. The suspect was locked into a 'restraining chair' and left by himself for almost two hours. His crime for the above treatment? He asked to see his lawyer!

The fact that the above happened at all is totally unacceptable. The fact that it happened in front of two police officers who did not intervene or stop the abuse is extra troubling. But thankfully, two honest 'cops' did not buy the bogus story told to them by the senior cellblock attendant,  26-year-old Matthew Jaskula, who claimed that the suspect had a severe nose bleed and had resisted arrest!  Thank God, the two supervising lieutenants reviewed the video tape and saw the truth. The injured suspect's civil rights violations will be addressed, not only by the Buffalo Police but hopefully by the FBI and the United States Office of Civil Rights, as well. What is also extremely troubling, is that some leaders inside City Hall are asking that the video tape not be released to the public until after a trial What would be the reason for this position unless a possible cover up may be in the making, considering that Jaskula’s father is a long time employee of Buffalo's City Hall. 

An official from the New York State Committee on Open Government said in a news report that it would be difficult to envision how disclosure of the videos would interfere with a law enforcement function or judicial proceeding. “How can it be that an individual has been beaten while in custody during an event that has been confirmed by the FBI, but the public doesn’t have the right to know more?” he asked.

We as citizens and elected officials are asked by law enforcement personnel to help eliminate suspicion and mistrust between the residents and the police. Our jobs are made harder when we are put in positions to explain the behavior of those who are sworn to 'serve and protect' show callous disregard for the civil and human rights of others. In this case the attendant, Jaskula, shoved the victim’s face into a wall; one of the officers who witnessed the attack laughed, and the other   pretended to express shock . The man the officers arrested was handcuffed, was not resisting and in their legal custody. 

We can no longer look with shock at how other countries mistreat their prisoners when the most hideous cases of police brutality and abuse are happening in cities in the U.S.A. including here in Buffalo, New York.