Civil Rights Attorney Says Man Accused of Shooting at RPD Officer is Innocent

Civil Rights Attorney Says Man Accused of Shooting at RPD Officer is Innocent


By Mike Hedeen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Rochester man, accused of shooting at a police officer earlier this month, was arraigned on attempted murder charges. The family of Silvon Simmons was visibly shaken during his arraignment Thursday morning.

Simmons pleaded not guilty to a list of felony charges that included attempted aggravated murder and attempted aggravated assault of a police officer and weapons possession. Police say Simmons shot at Officer Joseph Ferrigno after officers approached a suspicious vehicle on Immel Street the night of April 1. Ferrigno returned fire, striking Simmons three times.

“It is unspeakably hard to see our son in shackles. But the will of God will be done, the cover will come off everything,” said Frank Simmons, suspect’s father.

A Monroe County Grand Jury determined no criminal charges will be filed against Officer Ferrigno. However, the Simmons family has retained a civil rights attorney to look into any alleged misconduct by the Rochester Police Department.

Charles Burkwit says he’s not Simmons’ defense attorney, that’s being handled by the Public Defenders Office. Burkwit says his job is to investigate any information that may lead to a civil claim.

“I’ve been provided with some facts and circumstances which make me believe that Silvon may be innocent of the crimes that are being alleged against him,” said Burkwit.

Burkwit wouldn’t elaborate on what those facts and circumstances are. Meanwhile, Simmons remains in the Monroe County Jail with his next court appearance set for June 28.

“This is way out of his character. So, we believe that he is totally innocent of these charges,” said Simmons.