Updated: April 04, 2019 07:07 PM
Created: April 04, 2019 01:00 AM
ALBANY - By the time police body cam video recorded on March 16 was released to the public on April 3, the only person charged with a crime was police officer Luke Deer. To many residents of First Street who witnessed the events that unfolded that night, Deer's arrest is considered a miscarriage of justice.
"It's unbelievable," said Darlene Bellicose, a First Street resident. "We saw the policeman get hit. We saw his blood. It's on the sidewalk. They were calling (police) all kinds of names and gestures, you name it. There was so much that happened before they started the camera."
Albany Attorney Mike McDermott agrees. He reiterates the importance of seeing everything in context, which to him includes the realization that his client responded to the scene for a legitimate purpose.
"This is not somebody who went to that location looking for trouble," McDermott asserted. "He looked to enforce the law and to assist residents who called the police there."
McDermott believes there's a lot more investigation that needs to be done, the end result of which, he thinks, will allow people to see things in context and in their entirety.
"It's totally insane," Bellicose added. "The policemen did their job for the first time they've been called to this address, they did their job."
Albany Police 911 dispatch records indicate officers have been called to 523 First Street 72 times in a little over five years, those calls coming from neighbors, most complaining about loud music or out-of-control parties.
"Who's looking out for us now?" Mike Korzyk, a long time First Street resident, asked. "What cop sill come over here to protect our neighborhood if, when they arrest somebody, they're going to go to jail themselves?"
"This is not the first time situation," Shiela Ketter, another longtime First Street resident pointed out. "This has been going on close to a year and every time the police come here they get cursed at, called all kinds of names and they've been dealt with no respect at all."
The body cam video, released in five clips on Wednesday (4/3), depicts officers breaking through a door, dragging people to the ground, and then beating them bloody with fists and batons.
Residents of First Street, who have grown tired of the illicit and rowdy activities and behavior that they say have characterized their neighborhood for years, share McDermott's hope that people understand the context of what's been happening there.
"The allegations against Officer Deer are that he acted with criminal intent," McDermott stated. "That is simply not the case. He was there as an officer, to enforce the law, to make an arrest, not to cause any physical injury to anyone.
Initially, three men were charged following the overnight melee. Mario Gorostiza, Armando Sanchez Jr., and Lee Anthony Childs were charged with criminal nuisance, inciting a riot, and resisting arrest. However, after the District Attorney's office viewed the police body cam evidence, they concluded a conviction at trial would be unlikely and recommended to Albany City Court Judge Holly Trexler to dismiss all charges "in the interest of justice."
Trexler agreed, the vindication coming on Wednesday afternoon.
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