Cremen arraigned for Hertel Ave. protest, faces court no-show hearing Friday
The Franklinville man accused of brandishing a knife and uttering racial slurs during a Black Lives Matter protest in Buffalo this summer was arraigned on charges related to that incident Tuesday morning, after twice before failing to appear in court for those counts.
Cremen appeared virtually in Buffalo City Court. His attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf to counts including menacing, harassment, and criminal possession of a weapon. Police say he's the man captured in a photograph displaying a knife during a confrontation outside a bar on Hertel Avenue in late August, as Black Lives Matter protesters marched along the street.
He did not appear at two scheduled court dates in October. Following the second failed appearance, a bench warrant was issued. Cremen was taken in custody Monday evening in Franklinville.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says the defendant turned himself in after a neighbor called police, complaining of hearing lour arguing and possible gunshots in the Cremen home.
"Because there was a report of shots being fired, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department called in the State Police to help out, and the State Police arrived on the scene last night," he said. "Mr. Cremen initially had a phone conversation with the State Police, initially saying he wasn't going to come out and wasn't going to talk to them."
Flynn added that Cremen eventually walked to the end of his long driveway and peacefully surrendered. Further investigation found no evidence of any gunshots being fired inside the home.
Prosecutors were unable Tuesday to obtain a forensic examination of Cremen. His attorney, who also appeared online, argued that there was no proof of concerns for her client's mental health. She also suggested to the judge there's no proof he wrote the letter received by the court last month, containing a message allegedly threatening violent divine intervention against any law officers who might try to approach Cremen or his family.
"And then we said, okay, we'll move to Plan B," said Flynn. "Plan B was, we want him remanded on being a willful and persistent missing of court, which is a legal standard now under the new bail statute."
The judge set bail at $2,500 cash or $5,000 bond. Flynn says as part of the new standard, Cremen must appear for a hearing on a willful failure to appear count. That is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m.
"If an individual doesn't come to court, a judge can't just put bail on them, per se. There has to be a hearing," he sai. "They call it a willful and persistent absence hearing. There has to be some sort of hearing where we have to present evidence to the court that he willfully and persistently missed court on purpose."
Flynn admits he also has the burden to prove Cremen wrote the message received by the court last month. The Buffalo News reported the defendant admitted writing that message. Flynn says he plans to call the reporter who wrote the story as a witness.