Ex-Mount Vernon sergeant defends use of force during breakup tussle with fellow cop

·6 min read

A former Mount Vernon police sergeant claimed he feared his fellow cop and lover was going to violently attack him if he didn't use force to control her as they tussled during a breakup argument.

"I'm restraining her so I don't hurt her," Martin Bailey testified at his trial on assault, tampering and other charges. "I did not want the situation to escalate ... There were knives there. I did not want her to get to that kitchen."

Bailey began testifying Friday afternoon in the nonjury trial before Westchester County Judge Susan Cacace and wrapped it up on Wednesday. The charges related to the Sept. 21, 2019, altercation are third-degree assault and obstruction of breathing, both misdemeanors, and harassment, a violation.

Martin Bailey, in the middle, is surrounded by his lawyers, Mayo Bartlett on the left and Bruce Bendish on the right, during his trial in Westchester County Court on June 13, 2022.
Martin Bailey, in the middle, is surrounded by his lawyers, Mayo Bartlett on the left and Bruce Bendish on the right, during his trial in Westchester County Court on June 13, 2022.

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But the most serious charge he faces, felony tampering with evidence, stems from what he did six days later when he went to the Westchester District Attorney's Office to answer questions about the incident.

He presented a recording he made of the off-duty argument he had with Alice Ferreira to show that as he told her the relationship was over and he wanted to leave her apartment, she was the aggressor, abused him and blocked the door to keep him from leaving.

But that all came in the first seven minutes of the recording. Bailey claimed the recording just stopped and that he left the apartment almost immediately. But investigators searching his phone later found that the recording was nearly 13 minutes long.

During the final six minutes, Ferreira could be heard pleading with Bailey to stop hurting her. She testified earlier in the trial that she thought Bailey might kill her and that he covered her mouth and nose as he pressed down on her on the bed.

When she claimed she couldn't breathe, Bailey told her, "If you can talk, you can breathe."

Bruce Bendish, his lawyer, led him through the end of the recording, with Bailey saying that each time Ferreira seemed to be telling him to leave, he could not.

"She's saying 'just go,' but she's grabbing my clothes and preventing me from leaving," he testified.

Bailey was suspended following his indictment in November 2019 and retired a year later. Ferreira, who joined the department in 2017, was promoted to detective last year.

Bailey and Ferreira met in a Mount Vernon gym in 2015. He said they became friends and he wanted to mentor her, about work and life. It eventually grew into a romantic relationship. He was living throughout that time with his wife and two daughters in Wappingers Falls.

When Ferreira was struggling to pay her rent, he said, she asked Bailey if she could move into the basement apartment of a three-story home he owned on Hillside Avenue in Mount Vernon. He was reluctant at first, he said, then allowed it, not charging her rent but letting her pay for utilities.

He said there were occasional arguments but nothing major, and the relationship was a good one for most of the four years. He suggested she was much more serious about it, as she got a tattoo of his initials on her foot and later one with "Martin" and a crown on her ring finger.

He said she often got aggressive when she drank and was frequently jealous.

Ferreira's behavior when she got jealous led Bailey to decide to break up with her in September 2019. She had stared down a worker at the gym who she suspected of sleeping with Bailey — and then despite his warnings that an altercation could be bad for their careers, she showed up at the woman's other job where she was a dental hygienist.

Bailey went to the apartment to break up with her on Sept. 21. He said they argued for about an hour before he started recording.

He testified that he never thought his interview with the investigators was an "official proceeding" as required for the tampering charge. One reason was that a close friend who was a former Mount Vernon cop working at the DA's office had arranged for the interview.

He didn't think he was obligated to give them anything but played the recording for investigators so they would "come to the conclusion that I was a victim in this complaint."

He said on cross examination that he made the shorter version of the recording because he had expected to only play it for his friend and was embarrassed by the content.

"That part of the audio didn't show me in a good light," he told Assistant District Attorney Joyce Miller. "There was a lot of yelling, the tone and tenor, there was a lot of foul language."

But he denied that the reason he didn't want them to hear it was that he had violently attacked Ferreira, insisting he only used the force needed to get out of the apartment. He said up until then he didn't use force because he didn't want to hurt her.

"You the (high school and college) wrestler, the bodybuilder, the Mount Vernon detective who handled homicides, you can't walk out of that room because you're afraid of her?" Miller asked.

"In order for me to walk out of that room I'd probably be in jail right now," he replied.

He acknowledged providing an incomplete recording but that he had never altered or deleted it. Bailey couldn't explain why investigators found multiple copies on his phone, other than "I'm not computer savvy in the least."

On Friday, Bailey insisted to Miller that he wouldn't use the term "open marriage" but that his wife knew about Ferreira. He acknowledged having a third daughter, with whom he had limited interaction, whose mother was a New York City police officer.

Despite being married, Bailey had a reputation in the department for dating female officers.

Miller named two such women. Bailey acknowledged an affair with one but denied a relationship with the other.

The woman he said he never dated was a probationary officer in 2013. She claimed in an unsuccessful sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit that Bailey would make comments about her body, ask her to have sex with him and portrayed her as a bad employee because she had previously made a sexual harassment claim when she worked in the city youth bureau.

She was not kept on as a police officer when her probationary period ended.

The defense called no other witnesses and Cacace scheduled closing arguments for June 30.

Twitter: @jonbandler

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Ex-Mount Vernon Sgt. Martin Bailey defends use of force in breakup