FULTON, NY – The city of Fulton Police Department has charged an 18-year police veteran with assault and records falsification after receiving a complaint from a man alleging he was punched in the head while handcuffed and in police custody.
Fulton Police Chief Orlo Green said in a press release today (July 11) that he began conducting an investigation after Gary Bloss, 30, of Fulton alleged he was assaulted by Fulton Police Sgt. Joseph Arigo the night of June 28.
In his sworn deposition to Fulton Police Investigator Michael Batstone and Sgt. Stephen Lunn dated July 7, the alleged assault victim stated while in police custody he was choked, punched in the head, and suffered a cut above his right eye that required seven stitches to close.
“Sgt. Arigo punched me about eight times in the head and face,” Bloss’ statement said. “I said, ‘Are you serious? Are you going to beat my a** with handcuffs behind my back?’ Sgt. Arigo then punched me with his left fist and split open my temple.”
Fulton Police Officer Sean Hanks, who assisted other officers bringing Bloss in to custody on a warrant for a parole violation, said in his July 2 deposition that he saw Arigo strike Bloss “approximately five times” with a closed fist while the man was handcuffed in the booking room.
Bloss attested that at one point during the alleged assault he mocked Arigo for losing consciousness.
“I said, ‘Look dumb-dumb, you’re on camera.’ Sgt. Arigo said he don’t give a f*** and he blacks out. I said, ‘Why are you a sergeant at a police department carrying a gun if you black out?'”
Hanks said in his sworn statement that the surveillance camera monitor in the dispatch office was blank and did not seem to be recording.
Hanks added, “I had no idea what had upset Sgt. Arigo. … The whole thing caught me off guard. (He) is the sergeant and I didn’t want to attempt to stop in, not knowing how he would have reacted. I know I should have but was surprised.”
Green said it is also alleged that between June 28 and 29, Arigo made a false entry in the narrative of an incident report and “did sign the incident report knowing the content therein to be false.”
According to Hanks’ deposition, although he noticed the cut over the man’s eye, when performed the suicide screening and placed Bloss into the holding cell, “he was less than forthcoming,” but the officer did not believe he was still bleeding.
After returning to patrol Hanks said, “I heard Sgt. Arigo request EMS to the station for a condition with a prisoner. I returned to the police department and found Bloss on the floor, outside his cell” being assisted by another officer. “I noticed blood on the floor of his cell. … I was told that Gary had been sitting on the bench and fell off, striking his head on the floor.”
In Bloss’ statement he said he felt light headed and sick to his stomach, so he laid on the cell floor.
“The next thing I know is I woke up in the Oswego (Hospital) ER,” he said.
“The next day Sgt. Arigo addressed the crew and stated that he should not have done what he did and set a bad example,” Hanks said in his statement. “He said that he would admit what he did if questioned.”
Bloss concluded his statement by saying he was going to sue the Fulton Police Department and Arigo and “I want Sgt. Arigo prosecuted to the fullest extent. I want Sgt. Arigo arrested and charged.”
In the accusatory instrument dated July 11, Chief Green charged Arigo with assault 3rd degree, a class A misdemeanor; falsifying business records, a class A misdemeanor; and making a punishable false written statement, a class A misdemeanor.
Arigo was arraigned in Fulton City Court on Friday (July 11) by Judge David Hawthorne and released on his own recognizance.
According to the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision inmate information website, Bloss was released on parole June 13 from Orleans Correctional Facility where he was serving a 2-4 year sentence on a charge of third degree burglary, a class D felony, for a crime committed in Onondaga County.
Bloss is currently being held at the Oswego County Correctional Facility awaiting a decision on his alleged parole violation, according to a correctional facility spokesman.
Arigo has been suspended from duty and is scheduled to appear in Fulton City Court on Aug. 13.