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Man in Wheelchair Protests Arrest by RPD

Video of the arrest was posted online by a bystander.
Benny Warr said he was waiting for the bus at Jefferson and Bartlett when police asked him to move. Warr refused. That's about all police and Warr agree happened the afternoon of May 1.

Warr pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The arrest report said Warr "was with other individuals on the corner and was asked to move along due to high drug and violent activity in recent weeks. (Warr) responded by saying (expletive) and (expletive)."

"I did not curse at the officers at all," said Warr. "I am 52 years old and I have enough sense not to provoke anyone."

The incident came to light when a bystander posted a video of Warr's arrest to YouTube. The video does not show what happened leading up the arrest and it's hard to make out many details. The video does show Warr falling down and his wheelchair turning over. Warr said the officers used pepper spray. He said he injured his neck and broke several ribs. Warr uses a wheelchair because one of his legs was amputated when he was a child, he said.

"In my opinion, this is a very clear cut case of excessive force used on Mr. Warr," said his attorney, Charles Burkwit. "I do not see any grounds to even charge him with disorderly conduct."

Warr has had run-ins with the law in the past. He has at least two prior convictions for driving without a license. 

When asked why he didn't move at the officers' request, Warr said, "Because I was catching the bus and it was my right to catch the bus. I wanted to get out of the area."

Warr denied resisting arrest. "No I did not, not at all. I cooperate with the law."

The Rochester Police Department would not comment on the arrest, saying an internal review is under way. The officers involved in the arrest remain on patrol.

It's not clear who took the video. Burkwit said city cameras in the area also recorded what happened.

Burkwit said he plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Warr. 
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