LOCKPORT – The Lockport policeman who arrested business owner David J. Mongielo June 27 testified Wednesday that he arrested Mongielo because he pushed back as the officer tried to get him out of his pickup truck at a traffic checkpoint.
Mongielo, 47, of Day Road, Lockport, is on trial before Lockport City Judge William J. Watson and a six-person jury on charges of resisting arrest, second-degree obstructing governmental administration, second-degree harassment, driving an unregistered vehicle and two counts of using a cellphone while driving.
Mongielo, twice defeated in campaigns for Town of Lockport supervisor, is locally known as “the sign guy” for his four-year battle with the Town of Lockport over an LED signboard in front of his Robinson Road auto repair shop.
He was sentenced to 10 days in jail for violating the town’s law barring flashing signs, but the sentence has been stayed pending an appeal.
Jones said Mongielo drove up to the roadblock heading east. Jones said, “He started asking, ‘What is this, Nazi Germany? Why are you infringing and violating my rights?’ ”
Jones testified, “To be honest with you, I thought that someone was playing a joke on me. I was kind of at a loss for words.”
He wasn’t charged then, but later, Mongielo returned to the roadblock. Jones said Barrancotta told him to give Mongielo a ticket for an expired registration and for using a cellphone while driving. Mongielo pulled into the parking lot of Allie Brandt’s Bowling Lanes, where Jones was waiting.
Jones said he asked Mongielo three times for his license, registration and insurance card, but Mongielo didn’t produce them. Jones said he called Officer Kevin Lucinski over to help, and they asked Mongielo three times to get out of the truck. He didn’t.
“After the third time, I opened the vehicle and reached over to unbuckle the seat belt,” Jones said. “He kind of pushed back and shoved me away.”
Mongielo had only one hand free, Jones said, because he was holding his phone in the other. Jones said he assumed Mongielo was videotaping the encounter.
“He asked, ‘Why are you detaining me? You have no right to do this,’ ” Jones testified. He said he finally unhooked the seat belt.
“I warned him he was under arrest,” Jones said, adding the charge was second-degree obstructing governmental administration.
But in an Oct. 9 pretrial hearing, defense attorney Frank T. Housh showed, Jones said Mongielo pushing his hand away from the seat belt was not the reason for the arrest. Jones then attributed it to Mongielo’s refusal to get out of the truck. Jones then quoted Mongielo as saying, “I don’t have to get out of the vehicle because you’re not telling me why.”
Jones said Wednesday that after being patted down for weapons, “Mr. Mongielo put his right hand into his right pocket and started hopping up and down yelling, ‘Help, I’m being kidnapped. I’m being detained.’” He and Lucinski then pulled Mongielo to the asphalt.
Housh introduced photos of the facial injuries Mongielo suffered when he went down. “When did you plant his face in the street?” Housh asked Jones.
“We brought him to the ground. I wouldn’t use the word planted,” Jones answered.
Jones said Mongielo wouldn’t let officers handcuff him, refusing to put his left hand behind his back. He said Lucinski “flipped on the Taser to let him know we had it.”
Officer Heather Rohde testified she came over to assist and was the one who handcuffed Mongielo.
She quoted Mongielo as saying while he was down, “This is a police state. This is Nazi Germany. You’re all going to be sued.”
Mongielo did file a police brutality suit, but it was dismissed because Mongielo, who didn’t use an attorney, didn’t serve the police with the papers.