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VIEWS AND VOICES
Cop who killed Anthony Baez teaches "self defense"
A killer cop's new career

May 19, 2006 | Page 12

FRANCIS LIVOTI, the New York cop who killed Anthony Baez with an illegal chokehold in 1994, emerged with a new career after his release from prison this year--he's opened a martial arts school.

Anthony Baez and his brothers were playing football on a December morning in 1994, just three days before Christmas, when their ball accidentally hit a parked cop car nearby. Officer Livoti, angry that the ball had apparently hit the car more than once, got out of the car and began to arrest David Baez. Anthony protested the arrest, demanding to know what charges were being brought against his brother. Livoti proceeded to put Anthony Baez, who was an asthmatic, in an illegal chokehold. Anthony died soon after.

New York City's Chief Medical Examiner at the time, Dr. Charles Hirsch, determined that Baez did not die from an asthma attack, as Livoti would later claim in trial, but from asphyxiation. In his autopsy, it was revealed that Baez suffered from bruises on his neck and burst blood vessels around his eyes and larynx.

Livoti was acquitted on all criminal charges in Baez's death, but was later sentenced in a separate federal trial to seven years in prison for violating Anthony's civil rights. The fact that Livoti went away to prison at all is an extremely rare occurrence in the New York Police Department, where time and again officers have been acquitted in police brutality cases.

Livoti, who was released from prison last year, is now the CEO of Genesis Diversified Services, whose Web site boasts that he "has been involved in the martial arts his entire adult life...personally effected over 500 arrests, has over 1,000 assists to his credit and has single-handedly fought and disarmed knife- and gun-wielding felons on numerous occasions, with his bare hands."

The school offers personal training and hand-to-hand combat/self defense training to members of law enforcement and civilians as well.

The Web site describes Livoti as having "patrolled the toughest streets in America, spending all 15 years in the South Bronx." But it was Anthony Baez who wasn't safe from the notorious brutality of the NYPD that day.

Nowhere on the school's Web site does it say that Livoti killed an innocent young man with his bare hands, which he now flaunts for his business. Nowhere on the Web site does it say that Livoti had a long record of civilian complaints against him, including one for choking a 16-year-old boy.

The hypocrisy is not lost on Iris Baez, Anthony's mother, who has been an outspoken activist against police brutality since the death of her son. She was quoted on April 25 in the New York Daily News as saying, "[Livoti] should be locked up in a cell somewhere. If he didn't know what he was doing when he murdered my son, then how could he teach anybody else?"

Ms. Baez was referring to Livoti's lies during the criminal trial, where he and other cops testified that they did not know if he put Anthony in a chokehold or not. The self-proclaimed martial arts expert proves he knew exactly what he was doing.

Genesis Diversified Services also offers legal advice to members of law enforcement. It claims to "specialize in the defense of law enforcement personnel charged with criminal conduct emanating from the performance of their official duties." It touts Livoti's experience as a union official with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association as expertise.

The school's Web site says Livoti has "responded to over 125 officer-involved shootings and represented, in all department investigations and proceedings, not only the officers who discharged their firearms, but all non-shooting officer witnesses as well." This is a thinly veiled justification for police officers that brutalize and kill civilians all in the name of "performing their official duties."

Livoti paints a picture of pain and trauma for the officer who goes to trial after being involved in a shooting.

But what about the pain and trauma of the Baez family, which has to endure the arrogance of a cop who capitalizes off the methods that would prove deadly for Anthony? What about the pain and trauma experienced by the families of Anthony Rosario and Hilton Vega, two cousins shot 22 times in their backs and sides by members of the 46th precinct (Incidentally, the same precinct that Francis Livoti worked for)? What about the pain and trauma felt by the families of Amadou Diallo, Abner Louima, Alberta Spruill, Ousmane Zongo and countless others who have died or been harassed at the hands of the NYPD?

It's hard to imagine any situation like this in reverse. No end would be heard from law enforcement if a convicted murderer was released from prison and opened a school based on fighting tactics he formerly used on people. Yet there is a blatant double standard when it comes to members of law enforcement.

The cops' message is clear: Justice is denied for the victims of police brutality. Our message needs to be even louder and clearer: We must demand justice for all victims and demand an end to police brutality!
Rosa Haire, New York City

Register complaints by calling Genesis Diversified Services at 914-490-7058 or e-mailing [email protected].

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