The Buffalo News, N.Y.
New video of a summer fight over street parking between Mark Grisanti, his wife and two neighbors, shows the State Supreme Court judge shove a Buffalo police officer who responded to the dispute.
The police body camera footage, obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request and first published by legal news wire Law360, sheds light on a highly publicized brawl that erupted on the night of June 22 on Duluth Avenue in North Buffalo.
The Buffalo News reported in July that none of the people in the fight, including Grisanti, were charged, although both Grisanti and his wife, Maria, were handcuffed and driven to a police station for questioning.
In the video, Grisanti also repeatedly tells officers on the scene that his daughter and son-in-law are also Buffalo police officers and calls Mayor Byron W. Brown “a good friend.”
The videos show that as police arrived Mark Grisanti, 55, was bare-chested, his ripped shirt dangling around his waist. He held up a gold chain that he said was broken as a dispute grew physical with his neighbors, Joseph R. Mele, 65, a city worker, and his wife Gina D. Mele, 53. Maria Grisanti, 60, is in the street yelling.
“Wait ’till my son hears what you did,” Maria Grisanti is heard yelling. It’s not clear from the video to whom she is speaking.
A police officer can then be heard telling her: “If you don’t stop yelling this is going to be a problem for you.”
“I don’t care,” she yells.
“OK. Cool,” the officer responds.
“You’re not going to arrest me,” she says.
“I sure [expletive] am,” the police officer says as he begins to cuff her, bringing her down to the ground. At that point, Mark Grisanti rushes toward him and appears to shove the police officer twice.
“Dude, dude. You better get off my [expletive] wife,” Mark Grisanti says.
The officer says he’s taking Maria Grisanti to the back of a patrol vehicle.
“My daughter and son-in-law are both Buffalo police officers,” he says.
The videos show Mark Grisanti become calmer as he speaks with the officer who cuffed his wife.
“I didn’t mean to tackle you but you kind of threw my wife down on the ground pretty hard and I don’t appreciate that,” he tells the officer.
“If I were to do that to your wife and you were outside you’d do the same thing,” Mark Grisanti says.
“If you were a police officer and she was screaming in my face … ” the officer interrupts.
The Grisanti says again: “My daughter is a police officer. I know what you guys are going through right now. Trust me.”
He also mentions that he has brought up the ongoing neighbor dispute with Mayor Brown, whom he calls “a good friend.” He calls Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia his cousin.
Another police officer approaches Mark Grisanti and chews him out for his name dropping. “You want to make us look dirty? Is that what you want to do?” the officer says as he handcuffs Grisanti.
Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said police took statements from all of the parties involved along with neighbors and consulted with the assistant district attorney on duty.
Later in a police vehicle, Grisanti speaks with Detective Mark Constantino, who is his cousin, about the incident.
District Attorney John Flynn determined the Grisantis and Meles were “mutual combatants” and that no criminal charges were warranted.
He also said Grisanti has no relation to Gramaglia.
“That’s the end of the scenario,” Rinaldo said.
Mark Grisanti’s attorney, Leonard Zaccagnino of Shaw & Shaw, said he doesn’t believe the judge or his wife received special treatment.
“I don’t think they did. I do not believe that, not in the least bit,” Zaccagnino said. “It doesn’t look like special treatment – being handcuffed and driven to the station. Special treatment would have been if they went and arrested the Meles. They didn’t do that.”
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