When it comes to police misconduct, few do it better than Robert Eloff. The fact that he’s still employed by Buffalo is astonishing, but that may finally be changing. Currently Eloff is on unpaid leave pending the investigation into an incident at Molly’s Bar in Buffalo. Bar manager, and Eloff’s off duty employer, Jeffrey Basil is currently facing 1st Degree Assult charges over an altercation that occurred in Molly’s on May 11th. Little is known about the event, since police are actively investigating, but what is known is not looking good for Eloff.
Witnesses claim that Basil pushed William Sager, Jr. down a flight of stairs. Sager’s family reports that the doctors believe he was already unconscious before he was pushed, since there is no evidence that Sager tried to protect himself in any way. It is clear that Sager was unconscious and bleeding from his nose and ears when he landed at the bottom of the staircase. That’s when Eloff got involved.
Eloff and another officer allegedly dragged Sager out of the bar. This is a violation of every medical text and concept about what to do for someone with a traumatic head injury. Eloff should have known better than to move Sager at all. But it gets worse. It is reported that Eloff propped him against a wall quite a distance from the bar and then handcuffed him. Eloff called 911, but didn’t give the bar’s name or location, instead a nearby cross street. It is important to note that Eloff was under the employment of the bar at the time. When medical personal arrived, Eloff removed the handcuffs and Sager was rushed to the hospital, where he remains unconscious today. At some point after Eloff and his partner, also off duty and working for the bar, moved Sager, the video system inside the bar stopped working. The tapes (reports differ, but it seems to have been some sort of electronic device, and not tapes) were found in the dumpster of a nearby convenience store.
As a result of this incident, Eloff was put on unpaid leave, and cops in Buffalo no longer are allowed to work directly for bars. The fact that New York state law banned them from working directly for bars, and has for decades, is irrelevant. Buffalo had allowed off duty officers to work for the bars as long as they stayed outside to handle crowds. At the time of the assault, both off duty officers were inside the bar.
Being so directly involved with such an assault is bad enough, the fact that Eloff, to the medical detriment of Sager, attempt to cover it up is repulsive. Eloff also arrested one of Sager’s friends who came to check on him for trespassing, a charge that didn’t stick. The goal would seem to be clear, Eloff was trying to protect Basil, his employer, by getting Sager as far from the bar as he could before calling for help. Instead of acting like an officer and preserving the scene of the crime and securing the evidence from the video system, Eloff conspired to try and hide the crime. There really is no other way to view it.
Had this been Eloff’s first brush with police misconduct, it might be understandable. But it isn’t. Since Eloff’s been on leave, at least four more have come forward with testimony that he used excessive force with them. Just this week, a man filed notice that he is suing the city of Buffalo over Eloff’s unprovoked attack outside of the Bottom’s Up Bar, where Eloff was again working as security. This event was back in March 11, 2014. Video from the event shows Eloff tackling Christopher Kozak right after he left the bar after witnessing an altercation inside. Eloff and other officers tackled Kozak to the ground, leaving Kozak bloodied and bruised. And what was this level of force used for? Absolutely nothing, Kozak was not charged with any crime. This is how his attorney put it:
“Assault and excessive force, assault battery and excessive force against my client. I can not charge them with false arrest and malicious prosecution because they didn’t even charge my client,” said Cercone.
– Ronald Cercone as reported on WIVB’s Website
Video of the attack can be found here.
On St. Patrick’s Day, just a few days after the beating Kozac suffered, Eloff was implicated in another incident. A woman was filming police breaking up an altercation during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She has video of Eloff walking up to her and knocking her phone out of her hand.
Eloff has also been implicated in a double incident from January 2013. In this incident, Devin Rooney was at one of two bars that are side by side on Elmwood in Buffalo. He noticed a young black man handcuffed sitting in the entrance to Toros Tapas Bar, the bar next door to the one he was in. Rooney stepped out on the sidewalk and snapped a photograph of the man, because he suspected that he was being mistreated. After snapping the picture, Rooney returned to the bar next door, but off duty and again working for the owner of both bars, Eloff followed Rooney into the bar, demanding that he turn over his phone. When Rooney didn’t comply, Eloff reportedly slammed Rooney’s head into the wall of the bar three times, handcuffed him, and forced him out of the bar and back to Toros.
With all of these incidents, and more coming forward since the assault at Molly’s, the question isn’t why Eloff isn’t working, but why he isn’t in jail.
H/T To Scott Greenfield