Rochester Police Department investigates the arrest of man in wheelchair

Posted at: 05/14/2013 5:16 PM
Updated at: 05/14/2013 6:53 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

The lawyer for a man in a wheelchair calls it a blatant case of excessive force, but police say the man was cursing and swinging at officers.

According to a police report, 52-year-old Benny Warr was arrested on Jefferson Avenue.  The report says Warr began swearing at the officers and trying to hit them after they asked him to move away from the bus stop. The Rochester Police Department says they are reviewing the actions of their officers.
But Warr tells a very different story, saying he was doing nothing wrong and then was maced and beaten by police.

Benny Warr has had to use a wheelchair since he was born. He says, on May 1, he was at the bus stop on Jefferson Avenue when he was approached by two Rochester Police officers. And he says he still can't believe what happened next.

Warr said, “One was standing in front of me, one was on the side of me and they asked me to move. I said, 'I'm waiting for the bus, sir' and then he said something foul to me and I said, 'I'm waiting for the bus, sir'. And then he proceeded to spray me with mace and when he sprayed me, I tried to block it cause it blinded me and it hurt real bad cause he sprayed a lot.”

Warr says, next, the police put him on the ground. A woman at the bus stop that day caught the whole thing on her cell phone and sent it to us.

Warr said, “When they knocked me to the ground, I fell out of my wheelchair and hit my stump. I was on the ground and they were kicking and stomping me and holding my head down by my neck. He had his knee on my neck and they were kicking and punching me.”

Warr says they even pushed his wheelchair away at one point. News10NBC asked Warr, looking back, if he thinks he did anything that would make the police officers think he was a threat.

Warr said, “No way, no way, no way. The reason why I say that is because, first of all, I wasn't in front of no establishment, no one's business. I was at a bus stop, minding my own business. I wasn't saying anything to the officer, nothing like that. I am just wondering how I can be a threat, I'm in a chair and they have guns.”

Rochester Police did not speak with us on camera Tuesday. Again, they say they are doing an internal review of incident and that the two officers involved are still on road patrol. Warr's lawyer says he plans to file a civil suit against the police department.

Warr was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. He was arraigned Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty.