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Anthony Ramon Baez (1965 – 1994) was a 29-year old security guard who died on December 22, 1994. His death occurred early in the morning on Cameron Place in the Mount Hope section of the Bronx, New York. The fatal encounter began when the man, Anthony Baez, and his brothers hit a police car more than once with their football late at night around 1:30 am. Officer Francis Livoti ordered them to go home. After some discussion among themselves, the Baez brothers decided to continue their game, playing in the opposite direction. Officer Francis Livoti arrested David Baez first for disorderly conduct. He then attempted to arrest Anthony Baez, who had protested his brother's arrest by crossing his arms in front of his chest. A scuffle ensued, while other officers arrived on scene. After being taken to a hospital, Anthony Baez was declared dead.
Anthony Baez was 5 feet 6 inches tall, 270 pounds, and asthmatic. Officer Livoti was 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds. Mr. Baez had allegedly resisted arrest and it took four police officers to handcuff him and bring him to the ground. Anthony Baez was subsequently declared dead after being taken to the hospital by the police when a dispatched ambulance by Sgt. William Monahan, failed to arrive. The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that Anthony Baez' death was caused by asphyxiation due to "compression of his neck and chest", as well as acute asthma. Dr. Hirsch said that the classification of homicide indicated the death was caused "either entirely or partially" by "the actions of another person" but that it was not a ruling on blame.
Phil Caruso, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said that Anthony Baez “resisted violently when they attempted to put handcuffs on him, that's when he had the asthmatic attack." Sgt. William Monahan later testified that after the struggle, he saw Mr. Baez, handcuffed, stand up and walk briefly, with assistance from Officer Francis Livoti.
Livoti was the subject of several civilian complaints for excessive force, none of the complaints were substantiated and all of which (until then) had been dismissed by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
In his defense, Livoti denied that he had used a choke hold, asserting that any choking was unintentional and that he had not caused Baez's injuries or death. Three officers at the scene testified that they did not see anyone put Baez in a choke hold, that Baez was resisting arrest when Livoti handcuffed him, and that Baez was conscious after being restrained. Baez' father and brothers testified that Livoti did put Baez in a choke hold, and that Baez was limp when Livoti handcuffed him. Officer Francis Livoti also contends that the district court failed to consider that Baez at least contributed to the confrontation by resisting his (Livoti’s) efforts to handcuff him (Baez) behind his back.
The death of Anthony Baez during the Christmas season created sensational
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media attention.[original research?] Baez’s death was seized on by people who said that the police are too quick to use deadly force. This was the third and most notable incident involving NYPD police brutality in 1994, and in some previous cases the officers were acquitted.
Criminal trials and investigations
In March 1995, a Bronx grand jury indicted Livoti on charges of manslaughter in the second degree. Homicide charges were thrown out after an indictment with an incorrect charge was noted.
In December 1995, Livoti was reindicted for criminally negligent homicide. Livoti's trial began in September, 1996. He had waived his right to a jury trial and instead opted to have the case heard solely by a judge. In October 1996, Officer Francis Livoti was acquitted by a State Supreme Court Justice. Fearing reprisals and heeding to the outcries of the public, the Feds stepped in.
The Federal prosecutors were not constrained by double jeopardy, which is, charging Livoti twice with the same crime. Instead they turned to the same civil rights statute that was used to convict Los Angeles police officers Stacey C. Koon and Laurence Powell for the beating of Rodney King. Officer Daisy Boria was considered a distant relative of the Baezes and was present at his arrest in 1994. She contradicted three of her fellow police officers, including her partner. Boria had testified that she saw no confrontaton between Livoti and Baez. However, in 1987, she had been indicted on perjury charges by the Manhattan District Attorney for lying about an insurance case. She was later acquitted. In 2003, disciplinary charges were brought against two other officers, Mario Erotokritou and Anthony Farnan, involved in the death of Anthony Baez. Both officers were summarily dismissed.
In June 1998, Livoti was convicted in Federal court of violating Anthony Baez’s civil rights, and was sentenced to seven and a half years in federal prison. Livoti denies using an illegal choke hold on Anthony Baez, and contends that Baez died because he struggled while resisting arrest after playing football in the cold, exacerbated by his asthma. Livoti was released in April 2005, after serving six and a half years.
In 2000 the street where Baez died was renamed Anthony Baez Place.
A documentary film, Every Mother's Son, profiling the mothers of three men killed by the NYPD and their legal and political efforts, was made in 2004, about the cases of Gidone Busch, Amadou Diallo and Baez.
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