Friday, December 17, 2004

All Charges Dropped Against Dennis Kyne

First Jury Trial Arising from the RNC Protests Ends in Dismissal As D.A.
Drops All Charges Against Gulf War I Veteran and Anti-Depleted Uranium
Activist Dennis Kyne Mid-Trial


Dennis Kyne was among those arrested on the evening of August 31st on the steps of the New York City public library. On December 16, 2004, halfway through the jury trial against Mr. Kyne, New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau’s Office made a motion to dismiss all of the charges. New York City Criminal Court Judge Gerald Harris granted the motion and commended the District Attorney’s office for its fairness and professionalism. That decision came after Lewis and Gideon Oliver, Kyne’s attorneys, produced video and photographic evidence which they believe raise serious concerns that NYPD Officer Matthew Wohl may have lied numerous times under oath.

On the 31st, according to Officer Wohl’s testimony, he was part of a mobile
response team present at the library over an hour before any arrests were
made. According to eyewitnesses at the library that day, including Mr. Kyne,
and videotape of the event, members of the NYPD began searching and
arresting people shortly before 6:00 PM. According to eyewitnesses, the
searches and arrests were forceful, apparently indiscriminate, and
frightening. Among those arrested prior to Mr. Kyne were a fifty-five year
old art history professor from the University of Victoria in Victoria,
British Columbia, Canada, who was at the library with his eighteen year old
son en route to a Yankees game, along with two women who had been seated at
a table in the plaza in front of the library singing and playing guitar, one
of whom was sixteen and the other of whom was seventeen.
Officer Wohl testified that he personally observed Mr. Kyne yelling in a
“boisterous” manner just before he was placed under arrest, although he
could not specifically remember what Mr. Kyne was yelling. According to the
sworn Accusatory Instrument Officer Wohl signed on September 1, 2004, Mr.
Kyne was yelling, “Look what they are doing. The government is taking away
our rights. They lied to you; they lied to me” in a “violent and tumultuous

Officer Wohl testified that he personally effected Mr. Kyne’s arrest along
with two other unidentified officers. According to him, Mr. Kyne was
“screaming, yelling, and moving around” throughout the process. When asked
how Mr. Kyne had resisted arrest, Officer Wohl testified that his “mouth,
heart, and eyes” were moving, and that he lunged in a number of different
directions, “almost like what a little kid would do.” Officer Wohl also
testified that Mr. Kyne “went down to the ground himself” and that Officer
Wohl and three others had to pick him up and carry him across the street
“while he squirmed and screamed” all the way to the back of the NYPD
transport vehicle.

Mr. Kyne’s attorneys believe that the videotape and pictures raise serious
questions about key elements of Officer Wohl’s sworn testimony. Officer Wohl
does not appear on the videotape or pictures produced by Mr. Kyne’s
attorneys. Nor does the videotape ever show Mr. Kyne yelling what Officer
Wohl’s Accusatory Instrument claims he was yelling. The videotape shows that
Mr. Kyne reacted to several apparently baseless detentions and sometimes
violent arrests by shouting that the police were “fucking Nazis” as he was
walking away from the library. Officer Wohl testified that he did not recall
Mr. Kyne ever yelling those words, despite that, according to his testimony,
he was within feet of Mr. Kyne moments before his arrest.

According to Mr. Kyne, as he was on the sidewalk walking away from the library, a police officer in a white shirt suddenly yelled, “That’s a collar!” Videotape and pictures of the event show that two officers – neither of whom was Officer Wohl – then forced Mr. Kyne to his knees and placed him in plastic flexi-cuffs. As they were doing so, another police officer, who was wearing khaki pants and a short-sleeved, white t-shirt bearing no name or badge number, recognized Mr. Kyne and ordered that he be charged with “Dis Con and resisting.” Mr. Kyne was, at that time, complying with the officers who were arresting him and repeating, “I’m not resisting.” Another videotape shows that the officer in khaki pants – whom one person referred to as a “Commissioner” – later approached a Lieutenant from the NYPD’s Legal Bureau and said, “We got one of the troublemakers from Pataki’s last night.” According to news reports, Governor Pataki was at McSorley’s Alehouse the night of the 30th.

Mr. Kyne was charged with seven violations and misdemeanors, including three Class A misdemeanors – Riot in the Second Degree, Resisting Arrest, and Obstructing Governmental Administration – each of which carries a potential sentence of up to a year in jail. The DA’s Office dropped the Riot charge before the trial started. It also offered to dismiss the five other charges in exchange for a single Disorderly Conduct guilty plea, but Mr. Kyne believed that it was his duty to fight the charges.

During the trial, Officer Wohl also testified that he arrested four others along with Mr. Kyne, including two French Canadian men who were arrested for merely holding a banner in their hands in front of one of the library’s famous lions after another police officer told them they could do so. Several of the people Officer Wohl claims he arrested were prepared to testify that Officer Wohl had not, in fact, done so. “Especially these past few months in New York City, the scope of constitutionally protected conduct the Police Department has been criminalizing is shocking,” said Kyne’s lawyers. “We are worried that Officer Wohl did not tell the truth about what the NYPD did to Dennis. Maybe he was just following orders. If that is the case – if someone ordered him to lie on the stand – we believe that the District Attorney’s office has an obligation to investigate this matter immediately, and lodge charges against those responsible, where appropriate. Police officers cannot lie in a court of law and get away with it. The District Attorney’s office acted admirably in dismissing the charges against Mr. Kyne, but we believe that justice requires more of them in this case.”

Mr. Kyne comes from a long line of military men, and is himself a Gulf War I
veteran. Mr. Kyne served as a medic for the United States Army and enjoys an
honorable discharge from military service. He served in the United States
Army from 1989 through 1995, achieved the rank of Drill Sergeant, and was
with the 24th Infantry Division, the most forward unit in the conflict,
during Operation Desert Storm. Mr. Kyne now receives a monthly check from
the United States Government for “undiagnosed illnesses” in connection with
his military service. For more than fifteen years, during the Gulf War, and
even today the United States military has been using “depleted” uranium in
artillery shells and armor plating. Mr. Kyne believes that what the
government refers to as “Gulf War Syndrome” is, in fact, the result of the
Army’s use of “depleted” uranium on the battlefield. He has written a book
on the topic, “Support the Truth,” twelve copies of which were in his
possession when he was arrested on August 31st.

Mr. Kyne was in New York City during the Republican National Convention in
order to speak about “depleted” uranium. He was particularly concerned to
speak with New York City Police, Corrections, and Fire Department Officers
in connection with reports that four New Yorkers from a unit made up mostly
of those officers had recently shown signs of manmade, “depleted” uranium in
their urine. Mr. Kyne is concerned that he was targeted by the NYPD and
forced to face criminal charges because they disagreed with his fervent
activism against the military’s use of “depleted” uranium, which Mr. Kyne
believes is still killing soldiers.

Mr. Kyne was represented by Lewis B. Oliver, Jr. and Gideon Orion Oliver, a
father-and-son team of civil rights attorneys. Lewis B. Oliver, Jr.
conducted the trial. The Olivers are among the attorneys affiliated with the
National Lawyers Guild who have initiated a federal civil rights class
action against the New York City Police Department in connection with its
conduct during the Republican National Convention. For more information
about that lawsuit, please contact the National Lawyers Guild at (212)
679-6018, extension 16.

Mr. Kyne’s attorneys are calling on District Attorney Morgenthau to dismiss
the charges against the others Officer Wohl claims to have arrested, and
hope that it will launch a full investigation into this matter. They are
concerned that, during the Republican National Convention, police officers
appear to have made “dragnet” arrests, sweeping up groups of people instead
of individuals, and then forced them to face criminal penalties based on the
testimony of officers like Wohl, who may not have seen what they claim to
have seen. “No matter when he said it, or how loud, Dennis was right,” said
Mr. Kyne’s attorneys. “They lied to you, they lied to me, and they are



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