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Video shows police officers striking club patrons in Troy

Updated: 01/26/2014 10:32 PM
Created: 01/26/2014 12:27 AM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch

TROY – Cell phone video and surveillance video show city police officers striking patrons inside Kokopellis Night Club during a disturbance in which several officers suffered minor injuries on Saturday.

The video shows one officer using an asp or night stick to hit Roshawon Donley, 25, even after he is on the ground. A woman is heard yelling "stop" as the officer repeatedly strikes Donely.

Troy Police Capt. John Cooney, the department’s spokesman, described the unidentified officer’s actions as standard "pain compliance techniques."

Officers are trained to strike a person’s muscles – not the head or vital organs – if he or she is failing to comply with a direct police order, Cooney said.

But people who claim to have witnessed the altercation inside the Fourth St. club said Donely was obeying the police. They noted that his right eye was swollen in a photograph posted to Facebook.

"Troy Police did this to my cousin last night at Kokopellis, and he has staples in the back of his head," one person said on social networking.

Donley told a NewsChannel 13 reporter he was not yet prepared to share his side of the story on camera.

The police press release did not mention that any patrons were hurt. It noted that eight officers suffered minor injuries, and six people – including Donley – were arrested.

MELEE BEGINS

A promoter was hosting a memorial service at the club Saturday night to celebrate the life of a murder victim, said Dr. Barry Glick, who owns the building and co-owns the club.

The problem began when staff members saw marijuana smoke at about 2:30 a.m., Glick said. The DJ announced the club was closing early. Staffers began escorting the more than 200 patrons outside.

One patron assaulted a member of the security staff in a stairway, Glick said. Staffers called police "as back up" to their own certified security personnel. The first officers arrived soon thereafter.

Surveillance video provided exclusively to NewsChannel 13 shows patrons waiting to get their coats before leaving the club. People appear to be calm and orderly on the first floor.

A police officer is seen approaching Donely. It is unclear what they said to each other; there is no audio on the surveillance video. A moment later, several officers descend on Donley.

The scuffle draws the attention of other patrons. One person discharges a fire extinguisher on several officers. Police alleged that a patron used pepper spray, as well.

Soon, other patrons are seen struggling with police officers near the front door. One officer loses his balance for a moment. An officer appears to kick a man.

As the room clears, an officer is seen preparing to cuff Donley. That is where the cell phone video picks up, showing an officer using an asp or night stick to hit him.

OFFICERS INJURED

The police spokesman, Cooney, said he could not comment on specifics because he had not seen the surveillance video.

He stood by his response to the shorter cell phone video: that an officer was using "pain compliance techniques" when striking Donley. 

"The officers -- I saw it in all of their reports -- stressed how important it was to them to just deal with the situation at hand… and getting a safe environment reestablished," Cooney said.

Outside the bar, someone threw a garbage can at a police officer and smashed the rear window in a patrol car, Cooney said. Two officers were struck in the head with bottles.

"We had eight officers injured," Cooney said. "Six of them sought medical treatment at Samaritan Hospital. Two decided to wait a day or two and see how they would make out."

Most of the injuries were bumps, bruises, cuts, and sprains, he said. Several officers were taking a few days off to recover and rest.

By late Saturday, no one had filed a complaint alleging excessive force, Cooney said. Police did not release the names of any of the officers involved.

RESPONSE QUESTIONED

The building owner, Glick, stopped short of accusing the police of using excessive force, but he insisted the situation was under control until officers arrived.

"I can say unequivocally that none of our patrons -- none of them -- did anything to incite, to aggravate, or to cause the melee that happened here," Glick said.

Glick is a counseling psychologist and published author who specializes in aggression, violence, and youth gangs, according to his biography.

He said he has worked with police agencies in 49 states (except Hawaii) and several countries, and that what happened inside his building Saturday was unprecedented.

"I am accustomed to calling the police and having them come in to assist to keep the peace… I can’t in good conscience say that’s what happened here," Glick said.

"Ninety-nine-percent of the police force in Troy are professional, wonderful people," he said. "One percent spoils the cake for everybody."

Glick said he does not plan to file a complaint against the police because he wants to maintain a healthy relationship with the department.

INVESTIGATION CONTINUING

The next phase of the investigation will involve the State Liquor Authority (SLA), which issued Kokopellis’ Liquor License, according to the police spokesman, Cooney.

He did not comment on whether the police department wants the SLA to revoke Kokopellis’ license, but he said a response is necessary.

"We’re going to hope that the State Liquor Authority will get on board with us, and deal with this situation so it doesn’t happen again," Cooney said.

Cooney noted a prior incident, on October 19, when hundreds of UAlbany students clogged Fourth St. after a scheduled party at the nearby Atrium was canceled.

The displaced students tried to funnel into Kokopellis, which had booked a private party. Glick said he canceled the gathering and closed early when the crowd grew too large.

Glick insisted his bar should not take the rap for the Atrium’s cancelation, which caused the deluge. He said he welcomes an SLA investigation.

"For the last two years, with the exception of last night, we have conducted a safe place where people can come and enjoy themselves," Glick said.

CHARGES FILED

The Troy Police Department arrested the following six people on Saturday (listed alphabetically):

Tony Carter, 39, of Troy: Charged with Harassment 2nd

Roshawon Donley, 25, of Troy: Charged with Harassment 2nd, Obstructing Governmental Administration 2nd and Resisting Arrest

Michael Haight, 23, of Troy: Charged with Disorderly Conduct

Zainob Shaibu, 23, of Queens: Charged with Harassment 2nd, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest

Rashad Thomas, 22, of Troy: Charged with Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest

Quaivon Venson, 22, of Troy: Charged with Harassment 2nd, Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest

(Editor's Note: NewsChannel 13 confirmed, early Sunday morning, that Donley is the man in the video. The above video clip is taken from the Saturday 11:00 p.m. newscast.)

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