ITHACA, N.Y. — Today, the Ithaca Voice published a story about a $2 million lawsuit against the city and police department over a controversial August 2014 stop of two unarmed teens.

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That story can be read in its entirety here.

But we also wanted to give you a chance to read Chief John Barber and Mayor Svante Myrick’s response in full.

Here it is:

“We undoubtedly wish that this incident had proceeded differently, and in particular that all officers involved had been in uniform and marked IPD vehicles.  That is why we have met with the involved families, and the broader community, in an effort to address their concerns.  We have also taken bold new steps to deliver excellence in policing, from body cameras to a forthcoming Community Action Team, from a Community Outreach Worker to increased staffing.

Nonetheless, this lawsuit is an expression of understandable frustration through an entirely meritless lawsuit.  The stop was legal, justified, and entirely race-neutral, as indicated by the City’s internal review of this incident.

Unidentified young men fled uniformed officers in marked IPD vehicles—lights flashing—in the vicinity of two burning cars; arsons that remain unsolved a year later.  IPD was on the lookout for anyone who returned to the scene because arsonists tend to return to the scenes of fires they have set.  As these young men fled the police—first on bike and then on foot—they evaded marked IPD vehicles, but not the vehicle of IPD Sergeant Norman, who had been called in from off-duty, out of uniform in his personal vehicle. 

The City will vigorously defend this lawsuit, and is confident that the courts will award no damages against the City for doing its job: investigating, through its officers, serious car arsons on the night of August 9, 2014.”

— Chief Barber and Mayor Myrick

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.