The police disciplinary records of Troy PD Sgt. Sean Kittle could become a major factor in the trespassing case against activist Ken Zeoli as his defense attorney Matt Toporowski has subpoenaed those records ahead of a possible bench trial.
Police disciplinary records are now available to the public due to the NY State legislature’s repeal of the 50a law that kept police personnel records secret. Although police agencies across the state have brought lawsuits to prevent their release.
Zeoli was arrested and charged with trespassing on August 21 while demanding a complaint form at the precinct on State St. in Troy. During the ensuing protest officers told protesters and members of the media that Zeoli “isn’t a good person” and made remarks about him having “children by multiple women.”
Now Zeoli’s defense attorney Matt Toporowski has subpoenaed Kittle’s disciplinary records citing his client’s allegations that Kittle assaulted him during the arrest. Kittle faced a civil lawsuit in 2006 for “using excessive force” resulting in the complainant suffering a “fractured skull and mandible.”
On top of trespassing Zeoli faces a charge of criminal mischief for damage done to a car driven by a man who appeared to try to to run over protesters later that night. Toporowski says he has video evidence proving Zeoli wasn’t involved.
During a court date last week Zeoli and Toporowski say that Kittle told Zeoli “My wife thanks you for the granite counter tops.” Toporowski assumes the comment had to do with an increase in Troy PD overtime due to protests.
So far the Rensselaer County DA’s office has not taken a position on the trespassing case and has instead asked for more time to decide their position. Toporowski has asked the judge for a bench trial.
Toporowski says agencies across Rensselaer County are bringing their weight down on his client, a recovering addict, who is also on probation.
“Keni is active in the community and involved in all of these peaceful events. Local activists support him and it seems like the police are trying to denigrate him and isolate him from his support group,” Toporowski said.
On Wednesday this reporter was on the phone with Zeoli as he supported a friend who was trying to turn themselves in at the same Troy station. Sgt. Kittle was present and told two activists to get out of the station with their “crusty white shirts.” He also told them they could not record in the station.
As I spoke to one of Zeoli’s companions Zeoli cried out that he was being arrested. His companions say Zeoli was arrested by Kittle on a warrant. He was awaiting transport to Clifton Park to be arraigned at the time of writing. Its currently unclear what charges he faces.
State Police declined to comment on Zeoli’s arrest. A Troy PD officer said he couldn’t share details over the phone and said the public information officer was attending a retirement party and wouldn’t be back until tomorrow.
We’ll update this story as it develops.
I spoke to Zeoli by phone after he was released. He says Kittle has charged him with resisting arrest. He says the warrant he was arrested this afternoon on was based on an old charge that was supposed to have been settled during drug court.
I spoke to Zeoli after he was released in Clifton Park. He says he now faces a charge of resisting arrest from Kittle.