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DA May Charge White Plains Assistant Chief

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The Westchester District Attorney's Office said it may be filing charges against the White Plains assistant police chief accused in a federal lawsuit of flinging a chair at an officer.

District attorney staff spoke with Officer Michael Hannon and a union representative after the Sept. 22, 2011 incident, according to Lucian Chalfen, a press representative for District Attorney Janet DiFiore.

"They were here and they met with someone a couple months ago," said Chalfen. "It still remains open."

A civil rights lawsuit filed last Tuesday accused Assistant Chief Anne FitzSimmons of growing upset after listening to a recording of how Hannon handled a phone call. She then lodged a "heavy chair on wheels" at him, according to the complaint, which hit the back of his chair and thrust his head into a computer screen. Spinal injuries kept Hannon out of work for three months and continue to limit him to "light duty" work, according to the complaint.

The legal document names White Plains as a defendant alongside FitzSimmons for not preventing the incident and allegedly allowing the police department to ignore an internal complaint requesting that the assistant chief be disciplined.

Mitchell Baker, an attorney representing Hannon, said he thinks law enforcement has given FitzSimmons preferential treatment.

"The complaint was given to the district attorney's office and the bottom line is that, as far as we know, nothing has come out of it. If he had done this to her, he would have been severely disciplined," said Baker. "More than likely, he would have been disciplined, discharged and facing criminal charges."

Hannon filed an Oct. 10 harassment and discrimination complaint with the police department requesting that the assistant chief be disciplined. The White Plains Police Benevolent Association sent an Oct. 26 letter on his behalf. Neither received a response.

PBA President Robert Riley said the union approached the Westchester District Attorney’s Office after the police department neglected to interview witnesses.

"It’s just sad that we have an officer that was injured by a superior officer, a chief, and nothing has been done. This officer has been out for almost three months injured and he may need surgery,” said Riley.  “We’re a little upset with the leadership of the department.”

Public Safety Commissioner David Chong said he couldn’t comment on open litigation, but disagreed with Riley’s assessment.

“Robert Riley does not run the internal investigations of the department and he’s not privy to know what is going on internally with investigations regarding personnel,” said Chong. “A complaint was made and an investigation is initiated.”

Although the legal document describes FitzSimmons as white and Hannon as black, Mitchell said the case is not race-related.

"I thought it was appropriate just so the court could be aware of it, but it’s not based on race. It’s a civil rights action based on substantive due process," said Mitchell.

City Hall declined to comment, but confirmed that it has been served with the lawsuit.

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