Mario Gomez was born in Cuba and came to the United States in November of 1969 with his mother and father. He emigrated when there was an agreement between the United States and Cuba to allow "freedom flights" from the island to the US mainland. He stayed in Florida with relatives until his father could find work, and that work presented itself in Tarrytown at the Tensolite Company. An electrician by trade, the elder Gomez fit in with the Company which manufactured insulated wire and cable.
The young Gomez attended Sleepy Hollow High School and graduated in 1977. He joined the Marines and spent six years in the service rising to the rank of Sergeant. He took part in the United States invasion of Grenada and after active duty remained on "active reserve" for fourteen years.
He married in the early 1980’s and raised three daughters at 1 River Plaza in Tarrytown. "In 1983 I began working at Rikers Island for the New York City Department of Corrections. Many people don’t know that there are 9 different jails on the island. I was a member of the Emergency Response Unit. We were the people who looked like turtles when we put on our protective gear," he said. Gomez worked 16-hour shifts for nine years at Rikers Island. The long hours, intensity of the work and long commute to and from the Island, prompted him to transfer to the Bronx Criminal Court where he processed every individual arrested in the Bronx. With twenty years of service he retired from the New York City Corrections Department in 2003.
We met with Mario Gomez in early September. We wanted to hear his story about the events of October 16, 2006 where by his own account he was beaten outside the Sleepy Hollow police station, then removed to the Westchester County jail for 8 days without bail (due to the lack of paperwork being sent to the County by the Sleepy Hollow Police Department). Three of the eight days at the County jail were spent in the infirmary where Gomez wore a special helmet to protect his head from swelling and to reduce blood clots.
The principal officer involved was Sleepy Hollow Detective Jose Quinoy.
Top: Mario Gomez in front of the Sleepy Hollow Police Department
He was arrested by FBI agents at police headquarters on April 28 of this year. He was charged with two separate incidents, one in October and the other in December of 2006. In speaking with the US Attorney’s office the two indictments referred to Victim 1 and Victim 2 respectively. The first indictment reads as follows:
On or about October 17, 2006, in the Southern District of New York, JOSE QUINOY, the defendant, while acting under color of law, did assault an individual ("Victim 1″) who had been handcuffed and restrained by a police officer, resulting in bodily injury to Victim 1, and did thereby willfully deprive Victim 1 of rights and privileges secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, namely, the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by one acting under color of law.
(Title 18, United States Code, Section 242.)
The second indictment was worded almost indentically as the first with the exception of a change in the date (December 17, 2006) and the victim identification as (Victim 2).
Following are excerpts from River Journal’s interview with Victim 1 — Mario Gomez.
River Journal: You knew Jose Quinoy for quite some time did you not?
Gomez: I knew him since he was a kid. He’s Cuban like me and the Cuban community in Tarrytown is very close. He lived in the same building as me and our wives, who are Dominican, used to socialize. We had Super Bowl parties together and kids birthday parties. I have three daughters and he has three sons. Before he became a cop he worked for the Coca Cola Company.
River Journal: You mentioned that when Quinoy became a cop something changed. Can you be more specific?
Gomez: If I remember correctly he became a cop about 12 years ago. I had heard that he had a discrimination lawsuit against Sleepy Hollow and shortly after that he was hired by the Police Department. Anyway, after he got on the police force something happened and he just became less friendly. My wife even noticed it and she and Quinoy’s wife started to spend less time together.
River Journal: What was the issue with you, Quinoy and your daughter all about?
Gomez: I’m from the old school and I guess I have always been strict with my children. I got a call from a very good friend of mine telling me that he saw Quinoy and my oldest daughter having dinner together. When I spoke with her she denied it.
River Journal: How old was your daughter at the time?
Gomez: She was the oldest of the three and was twenty-one. She however, lived in my house and had to live with my rules.
River Journal: You mentioned earlier that you received other calls as well.
Gomez: Yes, and I told my daughter that Quinoy was a married man and if she was going to be seen with him or be with him that she needed to move out of my house.
River Journal: What happened after that?
Gomez: I got a call on my cell phone from Quinoy and I knew my daughter had to have given him the number. He basically told me that I was not going to tell him what to do with my daughter.
He also referred to her as a "bartender" in Spanish and in my culture that is a sign of disrespect.
River Journal: What prompted you to speak with Quinoy in person?
Gomez: He called me; I remember that night very well. It was October 16,2006 and I was at home in my pajamas. He said in Spanish that if I had "cojones" to come down to the station and see him. I knew that if I didn’t go I would never be able to walk on the streets again. He would bad mouth me and make things miserable. He’s that kind of guy.
River Journal: When you went to see him what did you expect to gain?
Gomez: I wanted to talk to him about my daughter. That was all.
River Journal: What happened when you arrived at the station?
Gomez: I parked my car in front of the police station and as I got out of the car Quinoy ran out of the station yelling, ‘Police, this is an arrest, don’t move!’ He hit me on the side of the head with handcuffs and threw me against a car. I yelled at him that we were supposed to talk. That’s when I felt a jolt to my neck and my arms and legs just started to wave back and forth. I know now that he had a taser gun.
River Journal: What happened next to your best recollection?
Gomez: My wife had followed me to the station and she saw what happened. She started to scream and Quinoy picked her up and slammed her to the ground. I was furious because she had had a very serious operation recently and he could hurt her very badly.
River Journal: What happened then?
Gomez: I just remember a lot of cops joining in. I was kicked, punched, and stepped on when I was down. I was handcuffed with my arms behind me and thrown into the backseat of a cop car. That’s when Quinoy came over and kicked me in the head behind my ear.
River Journal: You said that you weren’t taken into the Sleepy Hollow jail?
Gomez: No, I was driven to Westchester County jail and spent three days in the infirmary with a special helmet due to the swelling in my head. I couldn’t even get bail because Sleepy Hollow didn’t file the necessary committment papers for me to get it. I spent eight days in jail before getting out.
River Journal: What were the charges brought against you?
Gomez: Three felonies: Assault in the 2nd Degree, Resisting Arrest and Aggravated Harrassment. One other was a misdemeanor, Damage to Village Property. They broke a Taser gun on me.
River Journal: What is the status of those charges now that Quinoy has been arrested?
Gomez: They have all been dismissed. I have no charges of any kind against me.
River Journal: For the benefit of our readership, how are you today?
Gomez: I am in the process of getting a divorce. This situation with Quinoy put a big strain on my marriage and although it wasn’t the only thing it certainly didn’t help me to stay married. I have constant headaches and I am on daily medication to help relieve some of the pain. My leg still bothers me where it was stomped on. I’m close to my daughters. I still think about how Quinoy set me up that night. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with.
Sleepy Hollow’s Detective Jose Quinoy, was released on $100,000 bail in April of this year. He was ordered to surrender his firearms and he was placed on leave without pay by the Police Department. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday, November 16 at 10 a.m., in White Plains. He could face up to twenty years in prison if convicted according to legal sources.
With Mario Gomez, if justice prevailed out of injustice, it would reinforce the code that he has grown up with. A man must be responsible for his actions. If not, then he must pay for the harm he has caused others.
In this day and age of political correctness and its dilution of standards, there is something very refreshing and concentrated about the "old school."