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Albany Police dispute continues

WNYT Staff
Updated: January 26, 2020 01:43 PM
Created: January 26, 2020 11:28 AM

NewsChannel 13 is checking in with Albany Police and the District Attorney’s Office in Albany County after the release of police worn body camera video last spring ended with the arrest of one officer, who was also suspended along with two fellow officers as officials continue their investigations at the PD and DA’s Office.  

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Albany Police Officer Luke Deer was arrested last April on a felony assault charge following an incident on March 16, 2019 that APD officers were dispatched to for a “loud party complaint” on First Street. Shortly after the police arrived on scene to 523 First Street, police worn body camera footage shows the situation escalated quickly.

Deer was placed on a 30 day unpaid suspension weeks later, in early April, along with fellow Albany Police Officers Matt Seeber and Adam Lannacito according to APD Spokesman Officer Steve Smith.

According to the police union contract and Officer Smith, after that unpaid 30 day suspension, all three officers started getting paid their $66,692.00 salaries. They currently remain on paid leave.

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said Officer Deer’s April arrest, stemmed from his actions responding to that call for a loud party at 523 First Street. Police say they've had complaints on this address before.

"Through a collaborative investigation between the D.A.'s Office and the Albany Police Department it was determined that not only had Officer Deer violated department policies, but he had also committed criminal acts as well."

Deer was also charged with official misconduct, a misdemeanor.  At the time, Chief Hawkins made it clear the investigation was far from over at an April news conference. Their investigation according to the police chief started after a video taken by a bystander was shared with an employee at Albany City Hall.

On Saturday, NewsChannel 13 sat down with Dr. Alice Green, the Executive Director of the Center for Law And Justice.  “In the community we are really concerned about this whole issue of the problem that occurred on First Street. There was a promise to inform the community about a further investigation.  I want to know what’s going on, were these other officers guilty of any criminal charges that could be made against them? At this point I know nothing and I’m really concerned about that. At this point I want to trust my police department, so they need to follow through on what they promised.”

Albany Police declined an interview on camera, instead telling NewsChannel 13 the investigation is ongoing.  According to Albany County District Attorney David Soares, the case remains under investigation.
 

Deer and another officer responded first, then Chief Hawkins says they called for backup and around ten officers responded.

Right now, only Deer is facing charges.

Three people were arrested from the incident that were at the home. Their charges were later dismissed in court.

Chief Hawkins says this incident should have never lead to an officer assaulting someone.

"Whenever we have a situation when there's a call for service and there are no reports of weapons, no reports of narcotics and officers arrive and it doesn't escalate to that point with folks that were responding to it, then it should never escalate inappropriately from our officers," said Chief Hawkins. 

There is body camera footage from the incident, however police are not releasing it at this time. Chief Hawkins says there is evidence that one officer turned off their body camera during the incident, so there could be more suspensions. He said it wasn't any of the three officers suspended that turned theirs off.

Chief Hawkins said he hopes this doesn't put a dark cloud over the officers who do put their lives on the line for the right reasons.

"The overwhelming amount of our officers on this department are doing just that, the right things for the right reasons," said Chief Hawkins. "They're serving with distinction, they're serving with pride, they're putting their lives on the line every single day."

 


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