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UPDATE: Sources have informed Talk of the Sound the original report from the Journal News that Demetrius Hazelton is the son of Detective Timothy McKnight was incorrect. Full update below.
The New Rochelle Police Department is being sued by Demetrius Hazelton,
the son a New Rochelle police detective, with support from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Hazelton, 17 and Class of '09 at New Rochelle High School (pictured right, click to enlarge image), was arrested after he allegedly mocked a white police officer using a "white racial monotone voice" which police claim is the same voice used by Dave Chappelle "when making fun of white people."
For those not familiar with Dave Chappelle we've embedded a video clip from a part of his stand-up routine called "Scared Of The Police"in which he uses the voice described in the official police report. One caution, Chappelle is an R-rated performer and this video clip contains language some might find objectionable (and/or funny).
The lawsuit alleges that Hazelton's civil rights were violated during his arrest for disorderly conduct on April 13th after police attempted to break up a party at the Hartley Houses, an affordable housing complex run by the New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority as part of their mission to make housing more accessible to low-income residents of the City of New Rochelle.
According to the Journal News:
According to the police report, officers responded to noisy parties at the Hartley Houses complex April 13 and tried to break up an altercation there. After the crowd ignored police commands to calm down, the report said, an officer brandished a Taser and fired it in the air without a cartridge to show the crowd the device's electric shock.
The report said many of the people there, including Hazelton, ran from the police and into traffic on Lincoln Avenue. An officer asked Hazelton to get off the road, the report said, and Hazelton mocked the officer's commands by imitating him with a "white racial monotone voice." The report described the voice as the same one comedian Dave Chappelle uses "when making fun of white people."
The N.A.A.C.P. is alleging that police filed a police report and left out portions of the incident which make up, in large part, the basis for the lawsuit.
Our request to NRPD for a copy of the police report has, so far, been denied. NRPD Captain Kealy issued the following statement:
The defendant was charged with disorderly conduct, and his case has not been adjudicated as of yet. Thus, this report is exempted from a F.O.I.L. request.
We've asked for the incident report which ought to be available in un-redacted form as Hazelton is 17 but we will reach out to Mr. Williams of the N.A.A.C.P. to see about getting some of the documents from them.
UPDATE: Talk of the Sound spoke with Ron Williams of the New Rochelle N.A.A.C.P earlier today; Williams referred the matter to Calvin Scholar, Hazelton's attorney. Scholar did not return phone calls seeking comment.
UPDATE: Sources have informed Talk of the Sound the original report from the Journal News that Demetrius Hazelton is the son of Detective Timothy McKnight is incorrect. Hazelton's mother is McKnight's girlfriend. This information is supported by Hazelton's entry in the 2009 New Rochelle High School yearbook in which he credits his mother for being his "backbone" and "playing the mother and father figure" throughout his "entire life".
McKnight had previously notified NRPD officers on an informal basis not to refrain from processing complaints against Hazelton on his account because Hazelton was not his son and he was not able to control him, reliable sources tell Talk of the Sound.
At issue in the case is the apparent existence of two police reports: the original which contained the reference to Dave Chappelle and an amended version where the Chappelle reference was removed. So far, NRPD has been unwilling to provide Talk of the Sound with any paperwork from this case although that might change later this week as Hazelton is scheduled for an appearance in court on Thursday on the disorderly conduct charge.
This is a developing story. We have more single-sourced information that we are looking to confirm. One little tidbit is that apparently our friend from the Journal News was snooping around the doorstep of the arresting officer in the case looking for comment on the matter.