(FinalCall.com) – It has been one-year-and two- months since Stanley Ridley learned that a Westchester, N.Y., grand jury would not indict four police officers accused in the killing of his son, police officer Christopher Ridley.
On Jan. 25, 2008, Off. Ridley, 23, with one year of service on the Mt. Vernon Police Department was visiting nearby White Plains, N.Y. He reportedly spotted an altercation and tried to break it up. Officials say the man responsible for the altercation fought with the young officer, the policeman’s weapon fell and a round discharged. The noise caught the attention of four Westchester County police officers.
Police said the officers ordered Mr. Ridley to drop his gun and when he turned towards them–gun in hand–they shot him. He was mistaken for a suspect, they said.
“I learned of my son’s death, not from the Mt. Vernon Police Department, but from a church member who had seen the story on television. I called it disrespectful, the way they did not call me and that was the beginning of the cover-up,” Mr. Ridley told The Final Call.
In an April 10 lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Mr. Ridley filed for compensatory and punitive damages to the tune of $90 million, alleging a cover-up by Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore and eight others.
The lawsuit says the main cover-up was not reporting the firing of a round “point blank” into the right eye of Mr. Ridley and hiding the medical examiner’s report from the public. The suit charges the district attorney and police officials knew officer Frank Olivieri fired the fatal shot. The lawsuit said Mr. Ridley extended both arms and was displaying his badge when he was shot at 10 times, six shots hitting him.
“I received a phone call over three months ago from someone who argued with me that my son had been shot in the head, execution style. I immediately got in touch with the undertaker, who said he thought I knew about the head wound,” Stanley Ridley said. “There are a lot of facts that will come out, but I cannot reveal a whole lot right now,” he said apologetically.
This year will be the second Father’s Day without his son, Mr. Ridley remembered out loud. “He graduated from high school in 2003, and moved in with me; sort of my turn to make him into a man, so to speak,” Stanley Ridley said.
“We fought about what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to produce music and I said he had to build up some capital in the bank, and not to forget he had bills to pay now–so take those civil service tests,” Mr. Ridley recalled.
The grief-stricken father remembers his son placing fourth on the list for the Mt. Vernon police department. On Jan. 25, he could have just gone about his business, or called 911, but training instilled in him was that he was always on duty, said the slain officer’s father.
“He would remind me of that fact when I would argue with him about leaving his gun at home when he was off duty,” Mr. Ridley said. “I know the kind of child we had. He was that type of person going to someone’s rescue and he was killed for it.”
The father, who worked two jobs 30 years to provide for his family, said his son had the same work ethic.
“I was raised the old fashioned way and Christopher understood those values. He had completed a year and a half in college, and I stayed on him to finish, telling him he needed a degree for back up, even with the police department.
“I really miss him!” Stanley Ridley admitted.