Police chief: I didn't know the level of misconduct

April 05, 2019 07:14 PM

ALBANY - Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins confirmed to NewsChannel 13 Friday that notification of the March 16 melee on First Street "did" go through normal channels. However, he wasn't personally told about the "level of misconduct" depicted in the officer-worn body camera video.

Hawkins also stated there were a number of things in the video that "bothered him a great deal." He's also not pleased that the 11 officers involved failed to self-report what had happened.

Those officers were dispatched to 523 First Street at 4:00 in the morning after neighbors complained about loud music that was blaring.

The body cam video obtained by NewsChannel 13 in five snippets depicts officers breaking through the front door of 523 First Street, dragging people to the ground, kicking and punching people, and beating them bloody with batons.

The night of the incident three men were arrested, charged with criminal nuisance, obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and inciting a riot.

The charges against Mario Gorostiza, Armando Sanchez Jr. and Lee Childs were tossed out by Albany City Court Judge Holly Trexler on Wednesday after the Albany County District Attorney's Office reviewed the body cam videos and declined to prosecute the trio.

Instead, Albany Police Officer Luke Deer was charged with felony assault. He and two fellow officers were suspended without pay.

"As the police chief, I have to ensure that even with officers who have stellar records, if there is misconduct, there has to be some accountability," Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said.  

Police protocol requires all officers to turn their body cameras "on" whenever there's an interaction with a citizen, although Hawkins says there are some circumstances where they can be turned off for privacy concerns.

In addition, supervisors are required to review the body worn video at periodic intervals, Hawkins said.

Even though the chief says he's disappointed one of his officers has been arrested, he intends to use the situation as a teachable moment.

"One of the things we'll do going forward is make sure all officers get some additional training on when it's appropriate to activate and deactivate these cameras," Hawkins stated. "Additionally, we'll be giving officers some training in constitutional law, implicit bias and use of force."


Dan Levy

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