Police detective takes stand in UAlbany CDTA bus brawl case

April 20, 2017 06:27 PM

ALBANY - The case against Asha Burwell and Ariel Agudio continues in Albany with day 3 of trial testimony. The two former UAlbany students are accused in a brawl on a CDTA bus. A third student pled guilty to a violation in the case last year. The three women said they were victims of a racially-motivated attack on a the bus last year. However, police have charged the women with fabricating that story.

The remarkable thing about this case is that of all the people who were on the bus that night, instead of breaking up the fight, more people were ready to whip out their cellphones to begin recording what was happening.

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Along those lines, one young man on the witness stand was asked why he thought it was a good idea to shove his cellphone right up the face of one of the people in the fight. After thinking about it, he said, "I guess I shouldn’t have done that." That’s a familiar theme in this case.

After the defendants, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell arrived for day three of trial testimony, jurors were taken for a virtual bus ride -- shown video of what transpired that infamous night 14 months ago.

Among the witnesses was UAlbany Police Detective Benjamin Nagy, who under cross-examination was questioned about the thoroughness of the investigation by Burwell’s attorney, Fred Brewington.

He asked: "Was it you job to track down any aspect of the case to see if there was a racial component?"
Nagy replied: "I don’t know if it was my job. My job was to find the truth of what happened.

Brewington then asked: "After you found out the (defendants) got a concussion, did you ask her how she got it?"

Nagy replied: "No, I didn’t ask the question."

"Do you know every word that was said on that bus," asked Brewington.

"I do not," replied Nagy.

That was the central theme. Witness after witness took the stand and none of them testified they heard any racial slurs. The point being made by defense attorneys was that it was a noisy bus ride and just because no one else heard the "N" word or any other racial slur, that doesn’t mean the defendants didn’t hear it.

"You have to understand that racism is pervasive and it’s very complex, so I think they’re trying to get to the complexity of it all," explained Alice Green with the Center for Law and Justice. "It’s not a cut and dry kind of situation."


WNYT Staff

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