The obstruction charge against a troubled teenager whose left arm was badly broken by two Rotterdam police officers as they pulled him from a Mohanasen school bus last fall will be dropped if the boy remains out of trouble until early August.
The case against Jacob Gocheski, 17, was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal during a proceeding in Rotterdam Town Court on Feb. 10. As a result, the charge will be dismissed provided Gocheski doesn’t land in any new legal trouble over a six-month period extending from his last court appearance.
Gocheski’s family filed a notice of claim against the town in January, seeking $1 million in damages. They contend two officers used excessive force to remove the teen — who has emotional disabilities — from the bus on Oct. 9, breaking his arm and potentially causing him nerve damage.
The injury was captured by the security camera on the bus. In the video, two Rotterdam officers — later identified as Sgt. Daniel Ryan and Patrolman Ronald Armstrong — are seen grappling with Gocheski shortly before there is an audible snap and the boy begins to scream.
“Ahh [expletive],” Gocheski screams in the video. “Oh god … you broke my [expletive] arm.”
Rotterdam Police Chief Jim Hamilton defended his officers’ actions, claiming a departmental review of the incident determined they followed protocol and procedures. Contacted about the case Wednesday, Deputy Chief William Manikas declined to comment.
“It’s inappropriate for the department to provide a comment due to the pending litigation,” he said in an email.
Gocheski had been speaking with officers for about 15 minutes before the incident occured. At the time, he was refusing to get off the bus, which was stopped by his family’s home.
Gocheski wasn’t arrested until Oct. 10, when he was cited on one count of obstruction of governmental administration, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. Ryan indicated Gocheski physically resisted “while said officers were trying to lawfully remove the defendant from a school bus for transport to Ellis Hospital for a mental health evaluation,” according to the criminal complaint.
In an incident report filed on the date of his arrest, officers claimed Gocheski “was acting out and verbally threatening” the bus driver. The police also claimed he made suicidal statements and threats toward them.
Kevin Luibrand, the Gocheskis’ attorney, has maintained the charge against the boy was lodged without probable cause with the aim of covering up the injury they caused through excessive force.
Gocheski suffered a fractured humerus, internal muscle damage and possible nerve damage as a result of the broken arm. The notice of claim states one officer held Gocheski down while the other “violently forced” his hand and arm behind his back at “an unnatural angle.”
“Dismissal was the only and proper end to the criminal charge,” Luibrand said. “The videotape showed that charge was baseless.”