ERIE, PA (June 4, 2020) Erie Police Department Chief Dan Spizarny makes the following statement:
I understand the public criticism and frustration from the incidents that happened over the weekend of May 30, 2020. Many, including myself, felt emotions of dismay and sadness.
I recognize the importance of the peaceful demonstration in response to the death of George Floyd and the systemic issues faced throughout the nation. The Erie Police Department (EPD) condemns the actions of those officers involved in the unjust and unlawful killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We recognize the racial injustices taking place throughout the country and across the world and every individual must be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect. Black lives do matter. We also support the right of every citizen who has felt the impact of injustice to be heard here in our community and throughout the world.
The incident here in Erie that has garnered the attention of the nation is a short clip of an interaction between Hannah Silbaugh and one of our Erie Police Officers. That officer was immediately taken off the streets and placed on desk duty and is currently under investigation by Internal Affairs (IA). IA is reviewing the statements and video from the crowd and businesses in the area. They have been tirelessly investigating this matter through the week and will be working through the weekend to expedite the investigation. The entire case will also be turned over to the District Attorney for review. We will update the public as more information becomes available.
EPD detectives were called in on Sunday to begin investigating the criminal incidents that took place Saturday night. These detectives have been collecting and combing through thousands of hours of footage, looking for criminal actions, and identifying dozens of suspects and witnesses. These videos have been pulled from businesses, social media, and City Hall cameras. In tandem with state and federal agencies, our officers are actively working to put names to the images.
At this time, the Erie Police Department announces arrest warrants for the following five individuals. All of the following incidents happened on Saturday, May 30:
- Yesenia Vicenty, 26, of Erie is charged with riot and criminal mischief. Vicenty was seen breaking a window at Ember + Forge next to Melquan Barnett, who faces multiple charges including arson. Barnett turned himself in to police June 3.
- Anzyrie Henderson, 19, of Erie is charged with aggravated assault, riot, possessing an instrument of crime, and criminal mischief.
- 9:14 p.m. Henderson was observed on City Hall cameras using an aerosol spray paint can to graffiti the building.
- 9:28 p.m. Henderson was observed throwing projectiles at police.
- 11:17 p.m. Henderson was observed in the area of 515 State St. (Richford Arms) where surveillance cameras capture Henderson lighting an incendiary device which rapidly ignited, causing Henderson to drop it in a garbage can, setting its contents on fire.
- 11:33 p.m. As police were trying to disperse the crowd, Henderson was observed in front of 401 State St. (Ember + Forge), first throwing an object at the front door, resulting in damage, then observed picking up an exterior table and throwing it through the business window causing further damage to the business.
- Todrick Arrington, Jr., 24, and Haji Aden, 18, both of Erie, are charged with riot and criminal mischief in regard to damage of the Erie Parking Authority meters located around Perry Square. Photos and video were taken showing both Arrington and Aden breaking and removing the meters.
- Michael Stratton, 28, of Erie is charged with aggravated assault, riot, failure of disorderly persons to disperse on official order, recklessly endangering another person, and disorderly conduct. Stratton was observed on City Hall cameras throwing projectiles at police officers on the roof from 9:24 p.m. to 9:26 p.m., while the officers were giving orders to disperse
I encourage these individuals to turn themselves in.
The distance between our residents and officers has obvious gaps. Gaps we are working hard to identify and bridge. The outcry that City Hall has been hearing the past few days tells us that there is still a lot of work left to do, but we are committed to finding solutions that will bring this community together
Public safety is measured through many different lenses. At this time, the Erie Police Department will take the following actions steps:
- Review department policies and procedures to address use of force, taking a look at the 21st century policing policies from the Department of Justice
- Conduct an after action review of all of the events
- Continue to work with Dr. Parris Baker to conduct implicit bias training, identify our own blindspots, and bring attention to the larger systemic issues and racial injustices taking place throughout the country so that we can move toward a more equitable justice system in Erie
- Work with the Mayor’s Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships Council (SPCP) to improve relations with our residents.
I look forward to having conversations between the police and community leaders. These conversations will help our department and our community grow and move forward together.