Some editorial mixed in with some news…
For 20 years I’ve respected Culver Barr.
But after yesterday, I’d like to spit in his face. Yesterday, he had the rare distinction of both defending a guilty man and attacking an innocent man.
The one I can forgive. The other I can’t.
I’m talking about the trial of Tyquan Rivera, a corn-rowed piece of trash who, at 15, sits at the defendant’s table trying to pretend that he didn’t shoot a cop in the back of the head.
Culver Barr is his lawyer, a stately and dignified former judge who is a couple of Christmases away from 50 years as an attorney at law. Unfortunately, yesterday he showed that all the experience in the world can’t change the fact that sometimes defense lawyers are just disgusting pieces of ****.
Here’s the background.
In January of this year a young Rochester cop named Kevin Mack started his shift by going where he had to go every day – to the Dayton Street cesspool to chase the riff raff off the corner. That made it inconvenient for the drug dealers but it made it safer for the neighborhood. As he rolled up, there were five young men standing in the street. Four went one way, one went another.
It was that one who Officer Kevin Mack called out to. It was Tyquan Rivera, who was 14 then.
According to officials, Tyquan Rivera started swearing and yelling at Officer Mack. So Officer Mack escorted him to his home. A few houses down the street, mom not at home, Mack dropped off Rivera.
That’s when Tyquan Rivera allegedly told Officer Kevin Mack that he better get back in his squad car.
Leaving the boy at his house, Officer Mack began to do just that. He walked back to his cruiser and met there at least two other police officers who had come in response to his call for backup. Seeing that the group was dispersed and Kevin Mack was done, the officers together turned toward the police cars.
That’s when the shot rang out.
By the time Officer Kevin Mack and Officer Amy Pfeffer heard it, the round had already entered the back of Officer Anthony DiPonzio’s head, bounced off the inside of his skull and torn back through the right side of his brain. Anthony DiPonzio, 24, was dead on his feet. He dropped into a pile on the icy walk.
Moments later, he was in the back of a squad car, his bleeding head on Amy Pfeffer’s lap, in a lights-and-sirens run to the trauma center.
Where he survived.
From early warnings that there was a 15-percent chance of living out the week, to his lurching walk into the courtroom yesterday, Anthony DiPonzio has been a miracle – not just for his survival, but for his courage, dignity and poise. He is a brave cop, and an outstanding gentleman.
But this is about Culver Barr.
Yesterday, standing before the jury, making his opening statement, Culver Barr did a cruel and dishonorable thing. He didn’t resort to any trick of law, or to grand claims of his client’s innocence, he attacked a cop.
In the trial of a guy who allegedly tried to kill a cop, Culver Barr decided to attack a cop.
He went after Officer Kevin Mack. The guy who decided to shag the drug dealers off the corner. Culver Barr said it was his fault.
“Officer Mack could have handled this thing differently,” defense lawyer Culver Barr said. “Maybe if he was a veteran police officer instead of someone 18 months on the job, he would have handled it differently – and we wouldn't be here today.”
Think that through.
You’re a cop in your 20s, and you don’t yet have two years on the job, and your friend gets shot down beside you, and some shylock mouthpiece says it’s your fault. That’s what “we wouldn’t be here today” means. It means that it was the actions of Kevin Mack that led to Tyquan Rivera that led to Anthony DiPonzio.
Defending an alleged attempted cop killer, Culver Barr has decided to destroy the cop his client was allegedly trying to kill. That’s what the investigation turned up. When Tyquan Rivera supposedly raised that .22 rifle to his shoulder, he was aiming at Officer Kevin Mack’s back and missed.
Anthony DiPonzio was an accidental victim whose life will never truly be the same again.
And Culver Barr, a man old enough to be Kevin Mack’s grandfather, stood up yesterday to blame that on an innocent cop. He chose to defame the professional abilities of an officer who, for want of a little target practice, could have been lying dead in the snow that day.
First Kevin Mack was targeted by Culver Barr’s client, then he was targeted by Culver Barr.
The lawyer suggests that if Officer Kevin Mack had “respected” Tyquan Rivera’s “dignity” that violence would have been averted and there would have been no need for a trial. Because the officer had just a year and a half on the job, Culver Barr presumes his incompetence. All of a sudden, our problem is a rash cop, not a cold-blooded cop-killer wannabe. It’s one of those blame-the-victim things.
One of those lawyers-will-do-anything-to-protect-their-scum-clients things – no matter what the cost.
And the cost of this could be great. It could be crushing to a young person, especially to a young person in police work. Having set out on a profession to serve society and protect people, this young officer – Kevin Mack – is being accused in open court of causing the attack that almost killed and may have permanently disabled his friend and fellow officer.