I-TEAM: Buffalo cop forced off patrol duty over credibility issues

Posted at 4:45 AM, May 02, 2019

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A Buffalo police officer, seen in surveillance video, tripping a suspect inside City Lockup, has been taken off the street. Officer Joseph Hassett is now on administrative desk duty, because of credibility issues.

The 7 Eyewitness News I-Team has obtained a letter, sent to the department from District Attorney John Flynn, saying his office will "no longer call Officer Hassett as a witness in any pending or future criminal action...due to irremediable problems of credibility."

"That's an implication the Buffalo police need to resolve," Flynn said.

In his letter, the DA cites "obligations under Brady v Maryland" and "Giglio v United States," meaning he had information about some evidence, favorable to the defendant, but never disclosed the information.

"My problem is I have to ensure the witnesses my ADAs call at trial are credible," Flynn said.

He wouldn't elaborate on what issue of credibility led to his decision.

"It means he really wouldn't be able to do his job on the street. He wouldn't be able to arrest anybody; he wouldn't be able to be a witness to an arrest; he wouldn't be a credible witness so therefore, they don't want this police officer involved in any arrest, any criminal matters that might be prosecuted by the District Attorney," said Judge Penny Wolfgang.

Hassett was on trial for assault, official misconduct and making false statements. He was later cleared of all charges.

A Buffalo police source tells the I-Team, Hassett will be off the street until the administration can figure out the long-term implications of the DA's decision.

The DA says he is now reviewing all cases, involving Hassett, dating back to May, 2017. He said Hassett's credibility issues go back a number of years. He called them "significant."

We've learned this is the first time, in at least 20 years, the department has had to deal with something like this.

Hassett is a 10-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department. Last year, according to a search on a non-profit watchdog group's database, Hassett made just over $79,000.