By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins has been arrested again, this time on charges of misdemeanor obstructing governmental administration and the violation of disorderly conduct, according to published reports and Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell.
But the mayor told the Democrat yesterday there’s more to the situation than has been reported.
“It’s a one-way story,” he said while en route to a meeting with his attorney, where they were expected to draft a press release telling Jenkins’ side.
Monticello Police Chief Mark Johnstone was unavailable for comment yesterday, but according to Farrell and press reports, Monticello police officers responded to Jenkins’ G-Man Beauty Supplies shop on Broadway around midday Tuesday after Jenkins and partner Rochelle Massey asked for cops during a disturbance at their store.
According to several sources, there had been an intense argument about village code enforcement, where the mayor felt threatened, to the point of requesting an order of protection.
Ultimately, 53-year-old Daryl Fowler and 43-year-old Faye Brown, both Monticello residents, were escorted out of the store.
Their argument with Jenkins apparently didn’t dissipate once out on the sidewalk, however.
One source alleged Fowler swung at Jenkins first and the mayor had to defend himself. But the police and press reports only state that Jenkins allegedly tried to punch Fowler, missed, and instead unintentionally hit Monticello Police Officer Dave Weiner in the back of his head.
“His intent wasn’t to hit the officer,” Farrell acknowledged, but he added that the law considers such an act to be “transferred intent” and thus actionable.
The reports stated that Weiner will be out of work for a week due to head and neck soreness, and Farrell is investigating the officer’s injuries.
“I’ll be looking at the medical records to determine if there’s a charge of assault on a police officer or not,” he explained. “... There must be physical injury.”
He expected yesterday to make a decision on that in the near future.
Farrell had been contacted by the Monti PD when Jenkins was arrested and advised them of what charges he thought would be appropriate.
“Obstructing governmental administration is a serious charge, given his position as a police commissioner and mayor,” said Farrell.
Meanwhile, Fowler and Brown were both arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Like Jenkins, Fowler was also charged with obstructing governmental administration, said the reports, while Brown was served with trespass and harassment violations.
The reports also said the police union’s president, John Riegler, is calling for Jenkins’ resignation as both mayor and police commissioner, but Riegler could not be reached for verification.
“I’m not resigning,” Jenkins said yesterday, denying he hit anyone. “People aren’t happy about some of my decisions ... but I’m doing my job.”
Jenkins is due in Monticello Village Court on Friday, July 13 at 1 p.m., where Farrell said the prosecutor will likely ask for a change of venue.
LATEBREAKING NEWS: As the Democrat was going to press yesterday afternoon, Deputy Monticello Mayor TC Hutchins released a statement accusing Fowler of threatening the mayor’s life and arguing the police department did not properly handle the situation.
In particular, Hutchins stated that the police never acted upon Jenkins’ order of protection request and that Fowler yelled out to the mayor during his arrest, “I am working with the police department to bring you down.”
Hutchins was expected last night to ask the village board to have Village Attorney Dennis Lynch and the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the actions of the police and Fowler, with an eye towards possible civil rights violation charges.
Deputy Mayor issues statement
[This statement was read in public at Thursday’s Monticello Village Board meeting and pertains to Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins’ arrest, which the Democrat covered in the July 6 issue.]
Having just celebrated America’s Independence Day, we are reminded of our Nation’s great struggle to be free from oppression, unfairness and a lack of equal treatment. Unfortunately, the struggle for equality and freedom continues to this day and even remains a paramount issue in the Village of Monticello, as the events of July 3, 2012 demonstrate.
As long as I have known Mayor Gordon Jenkins, he has worked to help all people in the Village of Monticello with their problems. One great problem has been a lack of security in the village as the many people attempt to avoid criminal conduct of the few. While this is not unique in the Village of Monticello, it is a problem that remains, despite efforts to eradicate the problems.
Personally, I know the mayor has attempted to work in partnership with the Village of Monticello Police Department, but the mayor has made it clear about our frustration as a Village Board with the existing practices of the Village Police to not actively patrol areas that need additional security and also not aggressively pursuing criminal activity.
Many times the village residents contact the mayor to report problems since they are afraid to tell the police in the village for the fear that their identity and information provided will become known to criminals with terrible consequences.
The mayor has singlehandedly confronted criminals and made it clear to them that such activities will not be tolerated in the Village of Monticello. No doubt, the mayor has certainly made himself an enemy of those involved in criminal activity. Nevertheless, the mayor cannot be intimidated, because doing so would let down the many good citizens in the Village of Monticello who depend on an active mayor like Mr. Jenkins.
This past Tuesday, July 3, 2012, the mayor stated he was confronted on his own property by Mr. Fowler, whose identity was made known to law enforcement a few days earlier by the mayor. Mr. Fowler approached the mayor in his store, and according to the mayor, Mr. Fowler threatened to kill the mayor and aggressively moved towards the mayor.
The mayor contacted the Village Police Department, who responded to the scene with only one Village Police Officer, and also responding was the Village Code Enforcement Officer.
Mr. Fowler was removed from the store. The Village Code Enforcement Officer indicated Mr. Fowler remarked to the Village Code Enforcement Officer, “Why is the mayor telling people I am selling drugs?”
It was the hope of the mayor that the threats of violence against him, which are clearly crimes, would be appropriately pursued by the Village Police and that Mr. Fowler would be arrested by the Police. However, the Village Police Department did not immediately arrest Mr. Fowler, and later when the Police Officers responded without any arrest, the mayor complained about the absurdity of not enforcing criminal charges against Mr. Fowler.
The Village Code Enforcement Officer indicated that Mr. Fowler swung at and hit the mayor, and the mayor then attempted to assert his rights as a victim in self-defense.
After Mr. Fowler was arrested, the mayor contacted the Village Attorney and requested an Order of Protection be entered on his behalf so this individual would not come near his store or his home or himself or his family. That request for an Order of Protection was to the Village of Monticello Police Department.
The response by the Village Police Department a short time later, however, was not an Order of Protection for the mayor. Instead, an acting Police Chief of the Monticello Police Department advised that the mayor would be charged with Disorderly Conduct as an Officer was unintentionally hit as the mayor attempted to defend himself.
Later on, the mayor became aware that the District Attorney’s Office recommended upgrading the charges to misdemeanors against the mayor. Now it is the mayor as the victim who is being prosecuted, while Mr. Fowler watched the mayor being arrested from the freedom of the streets and yelled out to the mayor, “I am working with the Police Department to bring you down.”
Accordingly, I am calling upon the Village Board to take three immediate actions. First, direct our Village Attorney to contact the United States Department of Justice to report this matter. Two, direct the Village Attorney to conduct an investigation to determine if the filing of appropriate federal civil rights charges should be undertaken. And three, direct the Village Attorney to conduct an investigation of Mr. Fowler’s statement that “I am working with the Police Department to bring you down.”
After this investigative work is completed, a further statement will be made with regard to any outstanding issues.
Village of Monticello