WASHINGTON – The city of Fulton police sergeant accused of assaulting a man in custody pleaded guilty in federal court on Wednesday (Sept. 24).
The US Department of Justice, Department of Public Affairs announced in a press release that Joseph Arigo, 47, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to one count of deprivation of rights under color of law for beating a handcuffed man inside the Fulton police station.
According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, the press release stated that Arigo was sitting at the sergeant’s desk on June 28, when a handcuffed man was brought into the police station.
It further states that the man was yelling but was not physically threatening any officers or himself and Arigo pulled a video camera out of the wall to stop it from recording, walked into the room where the man was being held, shoved the man’s head into the bench and punched him multiple times.
As a result, the handcuffed man suffered cuts and bruising, lost consciousness and required seven stitches.
Wednesday’s statement reported that after the incident Arigo lied to his supervisors and in two official reports in an attempt to conceal his actions.
Fulton Police Chief Orlo Green said in a press release July 11 that he began conducting an investigation after Gary Bloss, 30, of Fulton alleged he was assaulted by the 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 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 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 was 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.”
Sentencing is set for Jan. 23 and Arigo faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Syracuse Resident Agency of the Albany Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Dana Mulhauser of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.