The lawyer for a Syracuse man shot by police during a confrontation said today that “police were wrong” when they stopped the man for suspected drug activity.
Kadeem Arrindell-Martin, 24, was shot once in the abdomen after three Syracuse detectives said Arrindell-Martin sped at them in a car after they approached him. A grand jury found the officers acted in self-defense and they were not charged.
But defense lawyer Charles Keller said the fact his client was not charged with drug crimes speaks volumes.
“In the first days after these allegations, we heard a lot about drug deals, things like that,” Keller said. “And I would say that, conspicuously, the indictment has not one word or mention of drugs. No one else is charged with possessing, receiving or selling drugs whatsoever. I think that speaks volumes about the credibility of the case here.”
His client was “talking to a friend, completely innocent” when the police approached him, Keller said.
Arrindell-Martin was arraigned today on charges of felony attempted aggravated assault of a police officer, accused of trying to hit the officers with the car. He also faces two counts of reckless endangerment and unlawfully fleeing a police officer in the July 22 incident on Columbus Avenue on the city’s East Side.
Arrindell-Martin was in-and-out of the hospital with complications from the injury in the weeks afterward. He has been out of jail on $100,000 bail. Today, he arrived at the courtroom with a slight limp, with his mother and others arriving a few minutes later.
“He’s around and about, as you see, but he’s still not without complications,” Keller said, declining to elaborate further.
Prosecutor Joseph Coolican declined comment after court. District Attorney William Fitzpatrick did not address the lack of drug charges in a news release Tuesday on the indictment. He did say that the officers were involved in a “drug investigation” at the time.
Keller said repeatedly that there was no proof Arrindell-Martin was involved in drugs.
“So no matter what, we know the police were wrong,” the lawyer said.
But Keller also wouldn’t say that police “botched” the investigation, or that officers stopped Arrindell-Martin for no reason.
“Whatever (the police) thought, whether appropriate or inappropriate, they were wrong,” Keller said. “And that wrong belief is how we get here today.”
Keller also didn’t defend the accusations of his client driving at the officers, saying he’s not going to litigate the case in the media.
Arrindell-Martin’s mother attended court today. She declined comment afterward, deferring to the lawyer.
Syracuse.com learned after the shooting that Arrindell-Martin’s arrest was part of a crackdown of East Side gangs in the wake of a Fourth of July homicide at Thornden Park.
There was an extensive grand jury presentation including dozens of witnesses that lasted two weeks.
Keller said prosecutors attempted to talk to another man with Arrindell-Martin that day. He did not know if they were successful and he isn’t allowed to see grand jury testimony.
Fitzpatrick described what Arrindell-Martin is accused of doing after being stopped:
“Syracuse Police Detectives Jason Eiffe, Jeffrey Ballagh and Edward Falkowski were participating in a drug investigation when Arrindell-Martin attempted to flee in a motor vehicle. As Arrindell-Martin drove at the officers at a high rate of speed, they opened fire striking Arrindell-Martin once in the abdomen,” Fitzpatrick wrote in his news release.