‘We Shouldn’t Be Here. This Is Bulls***’: Rochester Fire Department Captain Retires Days After Lawsuit Alleges He Took Firefighters to a Racist Party Where They Were Offered Buckets of Fried Chicken, Cognac and Juneteeth Cups

The white fire department captain who brought a Black officer to a racist party has retired, abandoning his post before he could be terminated by the city. His resignation comes days after the African American firefighter filed a claim saying his civil rights were violated when his superior made him attend a mock Juneteenth celebration.

According to the City of Rochester, Capt. Jeffrey Krywy was asked to “leave the service” of the department while the city investigates his actions, WHAM 13 reports.

The captain was accused of taking firefighter Jerrod Jones, 40, who is Black, and two other firefighters, McKenzie ‘Mack’ Neal, and Aurelio ‘Angel’ Perez to a party at a private mansion on East Avenue on Thursday, July 7, during their respective shifts.

At the gathering in question, the 14-year veteran says in his complaint obtained by Atlanta Black Star, the party organizers, Dr. Nicholas Nicosia and Mary Znidarsic-Nicosia, had buckets of chicken, red, black, and green flags, and effigies of Donald Trump.

The complaint detailed the experience, “Near the flags, he saw buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken prominently displayed – an apparent use of the racist trope recycled by bigots to mock Black Americans.”

It continued, “There were also pictures of ‘local democratic politicians on stakes across the grass and around the backyard, including members of the Rochester Police Accountability Board and a picture of Councilman Mitch Gruber among many others.”

“And there was a woman wearing a red wig impersonating Democratic County Legislator Rachel Barnhart and attendees reportedly yelled ‘sexually explicit comments’ at her. The woman danced in a mocking, sexual, manner to please the attendees,” the complaint alleged. 

In the midst of the controversy, the Nicosias released a statement about the party, saying the allegation swirling around it is an “unfortunate misconstrued portrayal of our family by uninvited guests to our home.”

While the firefighters were not invited, the Nicosias were gracious hosts. The lawsuit says they came to speak to Jones, hoping, according to the lawsuit, to “neutralize any potential negative fallout from Jones’s presence.”

As Jones spoke to the hosts, he noticed the impersonator giving the captain a gift back with a bottle of Cognac and a Juneteenth cup, “another racist trope” the lawsuit added.

In a way to mock his superior and let him know he is being seen, he yelled, “I didn’t know the captain [Krywy] was a cognac man.”

The captain responded with instructions for him not to take pictures. The men were all dressed in uniform.

Jones contends he nor his immediate colleagues wanted to be there and were brought there by his superior with a disregard for the activities at the party that might have offended him.

In fact, in the lawsuit, Neal is quoted as saying, “We shouldn’t be here. This is bulls***.”

When it looked like they were leaving, Mary Znidarsic-Nicosia offered a doggy bag, asking him if he “wanted to take home the chicken.” He declined.

The lawsuit claims, she asked, “You sure? It’s KFC!”

Neal said he would take the remainder of the chicken to the firehouse for the other on-duty firefighters.

After leaving, Neal asked Jones and Perez, “How f***ed up was that?”

“It means a lot to me when I put that uniform on and I’ve always wanted to represent my city in a correct manner, in a decent manner, in an honorable manner, and what I had to experience a month ago, it cut me very deeply,” Jones stated when he announced his lawsuit on Thursday, Aug. 11, saying he felt obligated to speak out after his earlier complaint was not adequately addressed by the city.

He reported the incident to the acting battalion Chief George Smith but believes that was in vain.

Jones stated, while standing with his lawyer Nate McMurray, “I’m sorry to have to even be here today but in order for things to change we have to do difficult things and one of those difficult things is speaking up against a department that you love with everything in you.”

Rochester Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez said Jones’ allegations were “unacceptable and an affront to everyone who works with the [Rochester Fire Department] and in City Hall.”

According to the chief, an internal investigation was already “finished,” and Krywy was suspended before he retired.

Jones’ lawsuit asks for an independent review, which the city of Rochester said it would initiate.

Though the city vowed to investigate the claim, on Aug. 15, Krywy decided he would not comply with the procedure submitted by officials and stepped down from his post.

WHAM ABC 13 reported Rochester’s mayor, Malik Evans said in a statement, “As of Monday, he has chosen to retire before termination proceedings begin.”

Despite Krywy retiring, Evans says he is still committed to addressing the issues raised by McMurray.

“The underlying issues that bring us to today were not created in the last eight months,” the mayor stated while celebrating the chief’s leadership in the matter.

“I thank Fire Chief Felipe Hernandez for his continued commitment to addressing the structural biases and cultural challenges within the RFD,” Evans said. “We will share regular updates on our work to tackle these longstanding issues in the weeks to come.”

In addition to Jones, Barnhart has called for an investigation, inquiring as to if any other first responders were present at the party. The plaintiff alleges at least one Rochester Police Officer was there.

“No investigation is complete until we learn who are the city employees who attended this party,” Barnhart said in a statement. “Because of the mishandling of this incident so far, I do not have confidence the City can carry out such an investigation internally.”

She wants support from other agencies and cities to step forward, writing, “I encourage other municipalities, including Monroe County, to join the City in pursuing such an investigation into the extent of their employees’ participation in this party.”

Other politicians are standing with Jones and Barnhart, also asking for an independent investigation.

Rochester City Councilmember Stanley Martin said, “I join the family of Jerrod Jones and his colleagues in calling for an independent investigation into the very serious allegations stemming from the vile Juneteenth party and ongoing acts of racism within the department.”

“The investigation must also look into the presence of RPD Officers at the Juneteenth event and the claims of subsequent pressure from elected officials intended to silence Mr. Jones,” Martin said.

Jones is asking a court to award him $3 million in emotional damages and $1 million in compensatory damages. 

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