Will We Ever See Truth and Justice On the Question of the Deaths of

India Cummings and Richard Metcalf?

Dear Editor,

Months ago, I thought that Erie County DA John Flynn should never have given the Richard Metcalf case to a rural DA; in particular to no one in Cattaraugus, Allegeny, or Wyoming Counties. Sentiment against the SAFE Act, which Sheriff Howard refuses to enforce, runs very high in those counties. Far better to have given the case to a county with a strong urban core, much like Erie County, in which Mr. Metcalf died. Rochester’s Monroe County and Syracuse’s Onondaga County come to mind. Or perhaps a special prosecutor should have been empaneled by Albany to handle the case. Now, Cattaraugus County DA Lori Rieman has refused to even call Dr. Baden, the state review board recommended and nationally renowned forensic pathologist, because she "lacks confidence" in him (whatever that means).

The Buffalo News tells us today that now, the Cattaraugus County DA may be less likely to lodge charges against any of Sheriff Howard's deputies involved in the Metcalf case, contrary to the State Commission of Corrections recommendations for a criminal prosecution. As of November 29, the statute of limitations expires on two of the charges; manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Personally, I think that the more important date is Election Day, November 7. And in this regard, Cattaraugus County DA Rieman may be giving Sheriff Howard cover so that the Metcalf case doesn't blow up in his face before Election Day. Erie County DA Flynn passed the Metcalf case on to DA Rieman because two of his assistant DA's had relationships with corrections officers involved in the case. But Flynn's office has other assistant DA's who could have taken the case. So it looks to me as if Flynn wiggled out of having to prosecute anyone in the Sheriff's department for Richard Metcalf jr’s death. In so doing, it may be said that he maintained that ‘special relationship’ so historically notorious among DA's and law enforcement.

And, by DA Flynn's giving the case to DA Rieman, it looks like Sheriff Howard and those Erie County corrections officers involved in the Richard Metcalf case will all be in the clear... at least until November 8. Given the foregoing, I wonder if we will ever see truth and justice on the question of India Cumming's death in the Erie County Holding Center two years ago.


Gene Grabiner