The white fire captain who brought a black officer to a racist party has retired and left his post before the city could fire him. His resignation comes days after the African-American firefighter filed a lawsuit saying his civil rights were violated when his supervisor forced him to attend a mock June 16 celebration.
According to the City of Rochester, Capt. Jeffrey Krywy has been asked to leave the department’s duty while the city investigates his actions, reports WHAM 13.
The captain was accused of taking firefighter Jerrod Jones, 40, who is black, and two other firefighters, McKenzie “Mack” Neal and Aurelio “Angel” Perez, to a party at a private mansion on Thursday, July 7 East Avenue to have taken their respective shifts.
At the gathering in question, the 14-year veteran says in his complaint received by the Atlanta Black Star, party organizers Dr. Nicholas Nicosia and Mary Znidarsic-Nicosia, buckets of chickens, red, black and green flags and effigy of Donald Trump.
The complaint detailed the experience: “Near the flags, he saw buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken prominently displayed — an apparent use of the racist term recycled by fanatics to mock black Americans.”
It continued, “There were also pictures of ‘local Democrat politicians on stakes in the lawn and backyard, including members of the Rochester Police Accountability Board and a picture of councilman Mitch Gruber and many others.’
“And there was a woman wearing a red wig posing as Democratic County Assemblywoman Rachel Barnhart, and attendees reportedly yelled ‘sexually explicit comments’ at her. The woman danced in a derisive, sexual manner to please those in attendance,” the complaint reads.
Amid the controversy, the Nicosias released a statement about the party, saying the allegation floating around them was a “regrettable, misconstrued representation of our family by uninvited guests at our home”.
Although the firefighters were not invited, the Nicosias were gracious hosts. The lawsuit states that they came to speak with Jones in hopes, according to the lawsuit, “to neutralize any potential negative effects of Jones’ presence.”
Speaking to the hosts, Jones noted that the impersonator returned the captain a gift that included a bottle of cognac and a Juneteenth mug, “another racist trope,” the lawsuit added.
To taunt his superior and let him know he was seen, he yelled, “I didn’t know the captain [Krywy] was a cognac man.”
The captain responded with instructions not to take any photos. The men were all in uniform.
Jones claims he still wanted his immediate colleagues to be there and were taken there by his supervisor, regardless of the activities at the party that may have offended him.
In fact, Neal is quoted in the lawsuit as saying, “We shouldn’t be here. This is cops***.”
When it looked like they were leaving, Mary Znidarsic-Nicosia offered him a doggie bag and asked him if he “would like to take the chicken home”. He refused.
The lawsuit alleges she asked, “Are you sure? It’s KFC!”
Neal said he would take the rest of the chicken to the fire station for the other firefighters on duty.
After he left, Neal asked Jones and Perez, “How fucked up was that?”
“It means a lot to me when I put on this uniform and I’ve always wanted to represent my city correctly, properly, with honor, and what I had to experience a month ago pained me deeply,” Jones said when he filed his lawsuit Thursday, August 11, and said he felt compelled to speak out after his earlier complaint was not adequately addressed by the city.
He reported the incident to acting battalion commander George Smith, but believes it was in vain.
Jones explained while standing next to his attorney, Nate McMurray, “I’m sorry to even have to be here today, but for things to change, we have to do difficult things, and one of those difficult things is to speak out against a department how to pronounce love with everything in you.”
Rochester Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez said Jones’ allegations were “unacceptable and an affront to everyone working with fire safety [Rochester Fire Department] and in the town hall.
According to the boss, an internal investigation was already “closed,” and Krywy was suspended before retiring.
Jones’ lawsuit calls for an independent review, which the City of Rochester said it would initiate.
Although the city promised to investigate the allegation, on August 15 Krywy decided he would not comply with the procedure presented by officials and resigned his post.
As WHAM ABC 13 reported, Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said in a statement, “As of Monday, he has made the decision to retire before the termination process begins.”
Though Krywy is retiring, Evans says he remains committed to addressing the issues raised by McMurray.
“The underlying issues that bring us to this day were not created in the past eight months,” the mayor declared while celebrating the chief’s leadership on the matter.
“I thank Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez for his continued commitment to addressing the structural biases and cultural challenges within the RFD,” Evans said. “We will provide regular updates on our work over the coming weeks to address these long-standing issues.”
In addition to Jones, Barnhart has called for an investigation and asked if other first responders were present at the party. The plaintiff alleges that at least one Rochester police officer was there.
“No investigation is complete until we learn who the city employees who attended this party are,” Barnhart said in a statement. “Based on the past mishandling of this incident, I have no confidence that the city can conduct such an investigation internally.”
She wants other agencies and cities to be supported, writing, “I encourage other communities, including Monroe County, to join the city in conducting such an investigation into the extent of their employees’ involvement in this party.”
Other politicians have backed Jones and Barnhart and are also calling for an independent investigation.
Rochester City Council Member Stanley Martin said: “I join the family of Jerrod Jones and his colleagues in calling for an independent investigation into the very serious allegations arising from the heinous Juneteenth Party and ongoing racist acts within the Department result.”
“The inquiry must also look into the presence of RPD officials at the June 16 event and allegations of subsequent pressure from elected officials aimed at silencing Mr Jones,” Martin said.
Jones is asking a court to award him $3 million in emotional damages and $1 million in compensatory damages.
https://atlantablackstar.com/2022/08/22/rochester-fire-department-captain-retires-to-avoid-being-suspended-during-investigation-into-racist-party-allegations/ Rochester Fire Department captain retires days after court case