Minutes after an aspiring police officer placed a call to 911 complaining that he was being harassed by two off-duty Buffalo cops as well as the management of a bar he was in, he was beaten into unconsciousness before getting thrown down the stairs, then placed in handcuffs even though he was out cold.
William Sager, 28, is now permanently brain damaged.
When the on-duty cops arrived to investigate the call, they found a surveillance video tape of the incident in the trash nearby, which sources said was placed there by the management of Molly’s Pub.
Police also “collected” videos from witnesses who recorded the incident, most likely seizing the phones unlawfully under threat of arrest and intimidation.
After all, Buffalo police have already proven to be lawless on this issue.
According to Buffalo News:
William C. Sager Jr. called 911 early Sunday to say he was being harassed inside Molly’s Pub by the management and two off-duty police officers.
Soon after placing that call, Sager was thrown down a set of stairs and placed in handcuffs while out cold.
Then, still in handcuffs and bleeding from the ears and mouth, he was dragged out on the sidewalk, a short distance from the bar. When a friend tried to intervene, he was placed under arrest.
Later, when on-duty police responded, they found an internal surveillance tape from Molly’s in the trash nearby.
That is the scene from early Sunday morning that The News pieced together after interviewing nine sources familiar with the investigations into the brutal beating of Sager. These new details emerged Friday as a wave of Buffalo police officers, troubled by the events at 3199 Main St. five days ago, shared what they knew. A Sager family member also confirmed much of what others told The News.
Sager, who was to be married in July, remains in the intensive care unit at Erie County Medical Center, unaware of his surroundings. Police and people who have visited him say there is little chance he will recover from his severe brain injury.
These reports suggest that at least one of the off-duty officers inside Molly’s Pub early Sunday was more than a passive observer to the beating.
The off-duty officer retrieved his handcuffs so they could be clicked around Sager’s wrists. He then complained to responding officers about Sager’s friend, who was arrested.
Said one cop: “Why would an off-duty officer put handcuffs on an unconscious man?”
The officers, identified as Robert E. Eloff and Adam E. O’Shei, have been placed on paid administrative leave, joining the six other Buffalo cops who are on paid leave from last month’s incident in which they beat a man after a traffic stop, then tried unsuccessfully to confiscate a camera in an incident that sparked a federal investigation.
It is now known that Sager called 911 in his own defense to complain about the management and the two off-duty officers after the confrontation erupted about 2 a.m.
If Sager sparked the incident, he had a lot to lose. He recently scored well on the test to become a state trooper and was longing for his application process to ramp up, one friend said. An arrest for a bar fight would not look good on his background check.
Despite restrictions on Buffalo police officers working security inside bars, it’s common for police to work security outside Buffalo’s busiest nightspots. Eloff and O’Shei were working outside Molly’s Pub and then went inside when Saturday night’s security duties ended, sources told The News.
The pub has two floors for patrons. During the assault, Sager was sent hurtling down the steps between the two floors. A doctor at ECMC surmised that he was already unconscious because there is no sign he used his hands and arms to break his fall, according to a member of the Sager family. With Sager on the floor, Eloff’s handcuffs were locked around his wrists, several police sources said.
By the time Sager was dragged outside, at least one other person had called 911 about the disturbance at Molly’s. The responding officers and medics were confused as to why the unconscious man found on the streetside had police handcuffs around his wrists.
When a friend of Sager’s tried to tend to him, he was charged with trespassing for refusing to leave.
When the story was first reported, it was stated that the off-duty cops had nothing to do with beating
Investigators already have determined that the off-duty officers had nothing to do with the attack at the popular nightspot for college students near the University at Buffalo South Campus.
But among the questions still unanswered: Did the off-duty officers witness the beating?
If they did, did they take action to stop it or help Sager?
The FBI has joined the probe into Sager’s beating – when contacted by high-ranking Buffalo police officials – to determine whether civil rights were violated.
But now it’ being reported that at least one cop “was more than a passive observer to the beating.”
UPDATE: Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographer Association, happens to live in Buffalo, writing a column in the local newspaper about the need for training.