I-Team 10 investigation: City parking officer arrested
Posted at: 05/31/2012 5:25 PM
| Updated at: 05/31/2012 8:05 PM
By: Brett Davidsen | WHEC.com
A city parking enforcement officer is under arrest and I-Team 10 has the exclusive details.
Damon Finegan was arraigned Thursday morning, accused of responding to a 911 call that should have been handled by Rochester Police.
I-Team 10 found out that call was for a recovered stolen car but the incident ended with a stabbing.
Authorities say Finegan had no business responding to that 911 call. If a trained officer had been there, officials say he would have known how to diffuse the situation and clear the scene. Instead, a man ended up in the hospital with stab wounds.
A stabbing on Whitney Street last month -- an act of violence that might have been avoided had an earlier call to this location been handled by the proper authorities.
Now, 47-year-old Damon Finegan stands charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor, after an investigation by the city's Office of Public Integrity.
Director of the City Office of Public Integrity George Markert said, “It's disappointing but the facts that we have required the city to take action, and that's what we've done in this case."
For more than 20 years, Finegan has been writing parking tickets for the City of Rochester.
"I mean, I feel like living in the City, if I need police assistance, I should be able to get it when I need it." It was April 3 and Chisa James and her sister had called 911 about her mother's mini-van which had been reported stolen a few days earlier by an acquaintance.
James learned of the van's whereabouts on the corner of Whitney and Lime Streets and wanted to meet a police officer there. Instead, she says Finegan showed up. James said, “Once he came, he refused to call police. My sister and I kept asking him to call the police so we can make sure that we can drive the car away without being pulled over and he absolutely refused to."
James says she even pointed out to Finegan that the suspect was believed to be hiding in this corner building. And still, she says, he refused to call police. “He just kept saying no. So we were like, if we call the police again, what would happen? And that's when he told us we'd just get him."
Finegan left and about 25 minutes later, police say the man believed to be the thief, was stabbed during an argument over the stolen van.
So why did Finegan, and not a police officer, respond in the first place? Authorities say, without authorization, he took the dispatch call and had it re-classified as a parking complaint.
Markert said, “It came in clearly as a stolen vehicle recovered, and it's not the type of job a parking enforcement officer is assigned to or should be responding to."
Finegan would not speak with I-Team 10 as he left court. In his statement to police he says he responded to the call so police would not be tied up on a “nonsense call that might have been a parking job complaint."
Markert said, "I can say that a police officer would have handled the interaction with the stolen vehicle complaint much differently and provided a different set of assistance which may have led to the secondary incident not occurring."
In a separate incident on the same afternoon, police say Finegan had an altercation with a different woman who was complaining about getting a parking ticket.
She says in leaving, Finegan swerved his car toward her and hit her arm with his side-view mirror. He was charged with misdemeanor harassment for that.
Finegan is currently suspended with pay from his job pending the outcome of these cases.