Two prisoners released amid DA’s probe of Southampton cops

05/31/2012 8:00 AM |

A Riverhead man was one of two convicted drug dealers to be released from prison last week following Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s investigation into the “credibility” of a Southampton Town police officer involved in the cases.

He was the same man who filed a $50 million lawsuit against Southampton cops, alleging officers had illegally conducted a body cavity search and “threatened his son’s freedom” in order to get him to sign a false statement.

Mohammed Proctor, 36, had his convictions vacated and his indictments dismissed after the DA’s office began reviewing more than 100 arrests involving an office in the Southampton department’s now-disbanded Street Crime Unit.

“The decision to release convicted drug dealers back into the community under these circumstances is not undertaken lightly,” Mr. Spota said in a statement last week. “Rather, we are duty bound under the law to take this action.”

Mr. Spota said his office is looking into further pending and closed cases to “determine what, if any, additional action is necessary.”

“It is anticipated that other cases involving this unit will be dismissed,” he said.

Mr. Proctor, who was arrested in April 2010, filed a lawsuit that same year.

In a handwritten complaint filed while Mr. Proctor was an inmate at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead, he alleges that Southampton police officers forcibly removed a bag of cocaine from his rectum without a proper search warrant. Mr. Proctor claims he was injured in the search and requested medical attention, but was refused by arresting officers.

“I don’t believe any of his allegations are founded,” said attorney Jeltje DeJong, who is defending Southampton police in the lawsuit. She has filed a motion to dismiss the case, which is still pending.

Mr. Proctor also claims in the suit that Southampton cops searched his mother’s vehicle and also his 16-year-old son without a proper warrant.

He claims that police coerced him into signing a false statement stating the drugs were found in his pants pocket by threatening to arrest his son for the illegal items found during a search of his home.

“You’re gonna sign this statement or your son goes to jail for everything in the house,” then-Sgt. James Kiernan is alleged in the suit to have said.

A felony complaint against Mr. Proctor and a supplementary police report — both submitted with the lawsuit ­— show conflicting reports on where the drugs were found. The felony complaint states narcotics were found in his pants pocket, while the supplementary report states the drugs were recovered from his rectum.

The narcotics found on Mr. Proctor were deemed admissible at trial.

He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance and had been incarcerated since last October, court records show.

The suit was filed against Sgt. Kiernan, as well as officers Vincent Cagno and Eric Sickles and several other unnamed Southampton police. An amended complaint also includes assistant district attorney Andrew Hefferman, whose attorney has also filed a motion to dismiss the case against him.

Mr. Proctor claims he was sexually assaulted by police, had his civil rights violated and suffers from “heart palpitations,” “severe depression,” and “nightmares” as a result of the incident. He is seeking $50 million in compensatory damages.

psquire@timesreview.com

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