Manhattan DA Launches Investigation Into "False RNC Testimony"
author: Drew Poe
In the first jury trial stemming from the mass arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, video and photographic evidence showed that police testimony in the case appeared to have been entirely fabricated. Judge Gerald Harris granted a motion to dismiss all charges against Dennis Kyne on December 16th, 2004, after the defendant’s attorneys produced the evidence contradicting statements made by NYPD officer Matthew Wohl while under oath.
The motion to dismiss the charges came not from the defense attorneys, but from the office of New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, after Officer Wohl had testified and the defense then played a videotape for the prosecutors. Apparently shocked by the contents of the tape, prosecutors had Officer Wohl view the tape as well, and the next morning the DA’s office made the motion for dismissal. Sources now say that the DA’s office has launched an official investigation into the matters.
Mr. Kyne was among several people arrested at the New York City Public Library on August 31st, 2004 during the RNC. Kyne originally faced a total of seven charges, including Riot in the Second Degree, Resisting Arrest, and Obstructing Governmental Administration. The Riot charge was dropped before trial, and the District Attorney’s office offered to dismiss the other charges if Mr. Kyne plead guilty to Disorderly Conduct, but he refused.
During his testimony at the trial, Officer Wohl asserted that he was present at the library as part of a mobile response team during the RNC. Wohl claimed he saw Mr. Kyne yelling in a “boisterous” manner, and according to the Accusatory Instrument signed by Officer Wohl on September 1st, Mr. Kyne was supposedly shouting, “Look what they are doing. The government is taking away our rights. They lied to you; they lied to me.” The document also asserted that Kyne yelled in a “violent and tumultuous manner.” Officer Wohl said that he personally arrested Dennis Kyne, with two other officers assisting, and that Mr. Kyne was “screaming, yelling, and moving around” during the arrest. Wohl’s testimony goes on to claim that Kyne dropped to the ground and four officers (including Wohl) had to pick him up and carry him while Kyne “squirmed and screamed”. Asked explicitly how Mr. Kyne had resisted arrest, Wohl stated that Kyne’s “mouth, heart, and eyes” moved while he lunged around.
However, the videotapes and photographs of the events in front of the library showed Mr. Kyne walking away from the library while police arrested several people, when a police officer in a white shirt yelled “That’s a collar!”, in an apparent reference to Kyne. At this point, two other officers grabbed Mr. Kyne and forced him onto his knees, then applied plastic cuffs. None of the officers in the videotape or photographs is Officer Wohl. Another officer in a white shirt then approaches and tells the arresting officers to charge Kyne with “Dis con [disorderly conduct] and resisting.” During this process, Mr. Kyne can be heard saying, “I’m not resisting.” None of the events described by Officer Wohl took place, as the images make clear, and Wohl was not present in the videos and did not participate in the arrest.
Officer Wohl also testified that he arrested four other people at the library, but in several of those cases the defendants insist Wohl was not the arresting officer. The videotape and photographic evidence proving Wohl’s testimony was false in Kyne’s case now raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the other cases involving Wohl. It is currently unclear how many total arrests Wohl is credited with during the RNC. However, any investigation of Officer Wohl’s record could potentially call into question his involvement in cases beyond merely the RNC.
The videotape and photographic evidence came from multiple sources, after Kyne’s attorneys searched the large body of evidence collected by the National Lawyers Guild, which is involved in several lawsuits stemming from the arrests and detentions during the RNC. A Florida photographer snapped several images of the events at the library, and a videographer happened to be present and recorded the entirety of Kyne’s arrest.
Matthew Wohl is a member of an NYPD Bronx Task Force trained primarily for responses to riots and shootings. They have general training in dealing with large numbers of persons in a situation, and Wohl stated that in preparation for the RNC he and other officers received extensive additional training throughout the year. Officer Wohl said he has a total of about 60 career arrests, with the five during the RNC representing just over 9% of his total career arrests. If problems are also found in his alleged involvement in the other four arrests attributed to him during the RNC, that means there is a possibility that discrepancies exist in nearly one-in-ten of Wohl’s total career arrests.
Further, Officer Wohl made several interesting assertions during his testimony suggesting to some that the falsification of arrest documents and police testimony may have been part of some sort of concerted effort by people involved in security planning for the RNC.
At one point, Wohl testified that his captain told him to arrest everyone within a certain area. Later, he stated that he could not really tell the difference between protestors, bystanders, and people merely coming and going from the library. The combination of an officer unable to discern between supposed suspects and innocent pedestrians, and an order from superior officers to make mass arrests based on geographic location rather than specific incidents, would seem to suggest there is a very real potential that large numbers of detainees were wrongly arrested and incarcerated.
Dennis Kyne’s attorneys expressed their concern that Officer Wohl’s testimony may be part of a larger pattern. Attorneys Lewis Oliver and Gideon Oliver mentioned the possibility that police had used massive sweeps to round up large groups of people during the RNC, and then relied on officers like Wohl (who were not necessarily actually involved in the arrests) to provide testimony intended to legitimize the arrests.
Sources familiar with the case have confirmed to this author the existence of an investigation by the DA’s office into the role of Officer Wohl in the Kyne case and apparently extending to his role in the other arrests at the library on August 31st. Cherry Hunter, spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, could not comment on the existence of any such ongoing investigation. Ms. Hunter also could not comment on whether there are any plans to pursue perjury charges against Wohl, but at this time no charges have been filed.
The existence of evidence proving police filed a false arrest report and gave false testimony at trial comes amid multiple other allegations of possible serious misconduct by the NYPD and other New York officials during the convention, including wrongful arrests, defying of court orders for the release of prisoners, and the whole scope of events surrounding the use of Pier 57 as a detention facility -- including the now proven hazardous chemical contamination at the pier.
This is the fourth in a series of investigative articles about the events that transpired during the Republican National Convention. Another article is expected to be published this week concerning newly obtained documents relating to Pier 57. The first three articles can be found at the links below.
2004 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION HOST COMMITTEE ARRANGED TO USE PIER 57
DOCUMENTS SHOW PIER 57 CONTAINED ASBESTOS, LEAD CONTAMINATION AND FIRE HAZARDS; HRPT AWARE OF CONTAMINATION PRIOR TO USE OF PIER TO DETAIN PROTESTORS:
DOCUMENTS SHOW USE OF PIER 57 VIOLATED WRITTEN AGREEMENT; QUESTIONS REMAIN CONCERNING CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY: