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BPD officer pushed to testify in death of airman

Posted at 7:38 PM, Dec 19, 2014
and last updated 2015-12-14 19:38:54-05

New details emerged during Friday's pre-trial hearing surrounding the death of 28-year-old Air National Guardsman William Sager.

On May 11, 2014 prosecutors say Jeffrey Basil pushed Sager down a flight of stairs inside Molly's Pub in Buffalo.

Sager's skull was fractured during the fall and he was in a coma and died as a result of his injuries two months later.

Basil was charged with murder, assault and tampering with evidence.

But Basil was not alone that night.  Defense attorney Joel Daniels said video evidence shows off duty Buffalo Police officers Robert Eloff and Adam Oshei helped drag Sager's unconscious body out of the bar and onto the sidewalk.

Then Eloff went to his car to get handcuffs out of his car and proceeded to handcuff Sager as they propped his body against the wall, according to Daniels.

Daniels told the court that Eloff was only a customer that night and not working security as previously thought and says that the taped 911 call shows that it was Eloff who called 911 after he handcuffed Sager.

That call was made 21 minutes after the deadly fall.  Daniels claims that delay contributed to Sager's death.

However, prosecutors denied that and argued that Sager's death was solely a result of being pushed down the stairs by Basil.

During the pre-trial hearing Daniels also referenced surveillance video evidence that he says shows Basil, Oshei, and Eloff walking down to the basement shortly after Sager was taken to ECMC and claims the trio removed the bar's DVR surveillance equipment in an effort to cover up the crime.

State Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang heard Daniels motion to subpoena Eloff for the trial so that he can call him to the stand as a defense witness. 

Justice Wolfgang delayed her decision on that motion, and said that she would issue a written decision sometime later.

It is up to the District Attorney to decide whether to grant Eloff immunity and that determination has not been made. 

Previously, Oshei testified in front of a grand jury and was thus granted immunity. However Eloff pleaded the fifth and did not testify.

The trial begins on January 5, 2014.