Anti-war protester's lawsuit against NFTA officers dismissed

Posted by Leslie Pickering on

by Phil Fairbanks, The Buffalo News


Armed with a videotape and a strongly worded court decision, anti-war protester Nate Buckley thought he had a good case against the NFTA.

A federal judge disagreed and dismissed Buckley's civil lawsuit claiming he was falsely arrested and assaulted during a 2011 anti-war protest outside one of M&T Bank’s downtown offices.

Buckley plans to appeal.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael A. Telesca said there was probable cause to arrest Buckley that day and claimed there was no evidence of excessive force by Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police officers.

The officers, according to Telesca, also were entitled to "qualified immunity" under the law.

"We are obviously pleased with the judge's decision as it supports our initial position and vindicates the actions of our police officers," NFTA Executive Director Kimberley A. Minkel said in a statement this week.

Buckley, who also sued M&T, said he was surprised by the decision and pointed to a separate criminal case involving his arrest five years ago.

In that case, City Judge Joseph A. Fiorella dismissed the charges against Buckley and criticized the NFTA officers who arrested him, describing their actions as “improper” and “repugnant to this court’s sense of justice.”

In his civil suit, Buckley accused Officers Richard Russo and Adam Brodsky of striking him, hitting him with a baton, pushing his head into a wall and ultimately using pepper spray or mace against him.

"I just think it was a rubber stamp for police violence," Buckley said of Telesca's decision.

Buckley’s arrest at the anti-war rally outside M&T’s office at Main and Chippewa streets was caught on video and widely viewed on YouTube.

One of Buckley's lawyers said they are preparing an appeal.

"We're disappointed but not surprised," Buffalo lawyer Michael Kuzma said of Telesca's decision.

Buckley is also represented by attorneys James Ostrowski and Daire Brian Irwin.