Police officers in America have a tough job. They are charged with upholding the Constitution of the United States and the state they live in, protecting the people of their community, and doing their best to go home to their families every night. Given those facts, it's unsurprising that officers are sometimes given latitude to make decisions that can change someone's life.

However, sometimes it seems that officers take things too far, and it appears that very thing has happened again in Western New York, according to documentation released by the New York State Attorney General.

City of Tonawanda's Police Chief Used Excessive Force & False Arrested Two Teenagers

New York State Attorney General Letitia James released the details of an incident in July 2022 in North Tonawanda.

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The AG's Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office (LEMIO) released a report that detailed how City of Tonawanda Detective Lieutenant Robert Clontz improperly arrested a 16-year-old and 15-year-old without reasonable cause and used excessive force in effecting the arrest of the 15-year-old.

Based on our review of documentary evidence, video footage, and interviews with witnesses and Detective Lieutenant Robert Clontz, we conclude that he improperly arrested two teenage boys without reasonable cause to do so, used excessive force (including a chokehold) in arresting one of the boys, and made a series of poor tactical decisions that escalated the situation into a physical altercation involving not only himself and the boys, but also bystanders.
-NYAG's Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office Report

The report details the incident during the 2022 Canalfest in Tonawanda, where the two teens had been tossed out of the festival. Clontz, who has since been promoted to the Chief of the City of Tonawanda's Police Department, followed the teens over a bridge into North Tonawanda. One of the teens asked Clontz why they followed them outside of his jurisdiction; he threatened to arrest the teen for disorderly conduct and then pushed the teen. Clontz then initiated contact between himself and the teens, and other officers and bystanders from Canalfest joined in the fracas.

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During the altercation, body camera footage showed that Clontz had the younger teenager in a chokehold and banged his head against the concrete while trying to use some karate moves he saw on the video.

In his interview with OAG, Det. Lt. Clontz stated that he was attempting to apply a “seatbelt hold” to Minor 2, a technique he had seen in an online mixed martial arts video. He told OAG that this was the first time he had attempted to employ this tactic...
-NYAG's Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office Report

The NYAG recommends that the City of Tonawanda discipline Chief Clontz and the police department enact a series of changes and training for officers.

The OAG concludes that Det. Lt. Clontz: (1) improperly arrested Minor 1, a 16-year old boy, without reasonable cause; (2) arrested Minor 2, Minor 1’s 15-year old brother, for violations without authorization; (3) used excessive force in arresting Minor 2; and (4) made a series of poor decisions throughout the incident.
-NYAG's Law Enforcement Misconduct Investigative Office Report

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