Officer Accused Of Using Excessive Force After K-9 Unleashed During Traffic Stop

BEAVER (KDKA) — The Beaver Countian gave KDKA’s Amy Wadas the dash cam video from the incident which took place in August of last year.  In the video, James Cicco, 34, is visibly getting attacked by a K-9 with Beaver Police Department.  During the traffic stop, you can see Beaver Patrolman Jeffrey Wijnen-Riems walk over to Cicco’s car, open the door and attempt to pull him out.

“The video does depict Mr. Cicco getting out of his vehicle with both hands palms out and raised and then he only retreats into his vehicle as officer releases the K-9,” Attorney for James Cicco Geraldo Benyo said.

As a result, Cicco suffered various injuries including a gash under his right armpit.  His attorney Gerald Benyo says he spent three days recovering at UPMC Presbyterian.

gash Officer Accused Of Using Excessive Force After K 9 Unleashed During Traffic Stop

Photo: Provided

“This entire incident resulted over an aggressive police officer who was upset because on the way to non-emergency call Mr. Cicco didn’t get out of way fast enough,” Benyo said.

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Cicco was driving on Route 68 in Beaver County.  Benyo says it took his client just 13 seconds to pull over and says Cicco pulled into his driveway in Industry because he had a bad experience with Beaver Police in the past.

“Turned out to be pretty accurate with having the fear,” Benyo said.

Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier says state police reviewed the video and interviewed witnesses who saw the incident.  He says they ruled that Patrolman Wijnen-Riems used the appropriate level of force.  After this, Lozier filed multiple charges against Cicco including fleeing and eluding and driving without a license.  During the trial, Lozier says Wijnen-Riems testified that when he went to arrest Cicco, it looked like he was reaching for a gun or taser.

Prosecutors say it was a rechargeable drill on the passenger seat of the car or near the car’s floor board. Benyo says he never saw proof of that.

Benyo said he is waiting to see if the district attorney will want to re-try this case, however the district attorney says he likely won’t re-try.

Benyo said the Beaver Police Department and Patrolman Wijnen-Riems has been placed on notice and that there is a federal claim being made against them.  He expects the claim to be made sometime in the next few weeks.

Benyo also said during his client’s trial, he brought to the attention of the jury that he believed eight or nine prior individuals filed civil rights litigation against Wijnen-Riems for his conduct as a police officer.

KDKA’s Amy Wadas reached out to Beaver Police for a comment.

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