By ASHLEY HELMS
After six months, charges against Mamaroneck resident and local activist Luis Quiros are slated to be dropped.
Quiros, who was arrested Feb. 14 on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, appeared in Mamaroneck Village Court on Aug. 15 to find out if the court accepted the letter of apology he was required to write to Police Officer Patrick Nadolske and Sgt. Mathieu Ricozzi, the officers who arrested him.
Though the letter only said, “I am sorry if you were offended and I wish you well,” with Quiros’ signature at the bottom, Village Judge Christie Derrico said that the court is expected to approve it and Quiros will not have to appear in court again for this case.
Judge Derrico, who substituted for Judge Daniel Gallagher, recused herself from the case due to a personal relationship with Quiros. Derrico said that Gallagher will finish any necessary paperwork for Quiros’ case when he returns, signaling its official closure. Gallagher, the other village judge, was away on vacation for an unspecified amount of time and Derrico was taking his place in court until he returns.
“I’m not really performing any function here,” Derrico said.
Quiros’ attorney Mayo Bartlett said Derrico couldn’t be involved in Quiros’ case because it could be a conflict of interest stemming from Quiros’ services at the court house, including language translation and social work.
“The people in uniforms are the criminals; we have to think about who is the criminal here.”
–Resident Luis Quiros on his February arrest
She did not perform any legal function except to tell Quiros that Gallagher will sign off on his apology letter and that he will not have to return to court as long as he stays out of legal trouble until February.
“We’re not living in a vacuum; you bring your life experiences with you,” Bartlett said.
Despite recusing herself from the case, the judge did have some kind words for Quiros. “Thank you for handling this the way you have,” she said.
On Feb. 14, Quiros was outside his home at 144 Rockland Ave. when he was approached by Nadolske, who told Quiros he appeared suspicious while sitting in his car listening to music. The encounter between Nadolske and Quiros escalated and the activist said he was pushed against a car and forced into Nadolske’s police cruiser, causing minor injury to his nose and lip.
Quiros said he was held in the village courthouse for six hours, during which time he said he was never read his Miranda rights, and was not told for what he had been arrested.
Quiros’ arrest and subsequent court appearances attracted attention from other activists, as well as members of Mamaroneck’s Hispanic community, who believed the
incident was part of a much larger, countywide problem with police accountability. Quiros said he believes he was racially profiled by the police because he is Puerto Rican and was wearing a shirt containing the province’s name at the time of the altercation.
In May, it was revealed that a phone call from Det. Bernard McNally directed his fellow officers to Quiros. There was no mention of any specific violations during the call.
As directed by Gallagher, Quiros wrote an apology letter in order to get his case dismissed. A first, longer letter, which included accusations of racism and a quote from the controversial stop-and-frisk trial in New York City, was rejected by the court. Quiros then wrote the shorter, one-sentence letter.
“The lawyer said if I did the letter I wanted to be very careful, since I don’t apologize for things that are [an] injustice,” Quiros said. The letter will be sent to the addressed police officers.
Even though Quiros will not face any further legal proceedings for the arrest, he said he’s disappointed because he thinks many others will face the same persecution he did.
“I feel sad because the issues of profiling and advocacy are a long way away from being resolved,” Quiros said. “The people in uniforms are the criminals; we have to think about who is the criminal here.”
When the judge was not in the court chamber, Quiros said that Mamaroneck Prosecutor Diana Hedayati would ask anyone that had darker skin or a perceived ethnic name if they could speak English upon walking up to the stand to settle their cases. Quiros said this practice is common place, but people deny it goes on.
“You can see the normalizing of racial profiling,” Quiros said. “She asked only those who were dark skinned or had an assumed Latino name.”
Because of these issues, Quiros said that he will continue to rally for racial equality and Hispanic visibility.
“I’m still going to do my advocacy, but, legally, I have to stay out of some trouble,” Quiros said.