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Coalition Demands Accountability, Change in Treatment of Disabled by Police

Centro bus video; screen capture

A cross cultural coalition of more than a dozen advocacy groups is stepping up pressure on the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, and Centro in light of the treatment of Brad Hulett. 

The story has gathered momentum since the Post-Standard published a story last week about Hulett’s plans to sue the city, county, and Centro over the incident that took place back in May.  Regional director of the NYCLU Barrie Gewanter sums up what happened…

Hulett says he couldn’t sit down on the bus because of a back injury.  But video from the bus posted on-line shows no one involved from the bus driver to the police bothered to ask him why he couldn’t sit and didn’t appear to want to make any accommodation. Police also don’t seem to give a legitimate reason why he should sit or get off the bus.  Reverend James Thompson with the Syracuse chapter of the National Action Network is a disabled Vietnam veteran who says he’s been a victim of rudeness by Centro and police.  He says there appears to be a culture of insensitivity in the department.

Thompson says it’s clear police need training to know how to talk with someone who has an intellectual disability before acting so swiftly and brutally.   Gewanter with the NYCLU says it appears officers weren’t justified in using the Taser on Hulett, because under department use of force policy, he was passively resisting and not posing any threat. 

Barrie Gewanter at a previous event calling for police and sheriff accountability.

Gewanter says she has no idea what lessons, changes in policy, procedure, or training Syracuse Police, Onondaga County, or Centro may have taken away from the incident, but fears the answer is none.  The United as One coalition is calling for meeting with all involved.  The city, county, and Centro have all refused comment citing Hulett’s pending litigation. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at