Albany Police Department top officials didn’t learn about a violent confrontation between police and First Street residents until after cellphone video from a bystander was shared with a City Hall employee.
Chief Eric Hawkins said none of the 11 officers who responded at 4 a.m. March 16 to 523 First St. self-reported the incident that led to charges against one officer, Luke Deer, and the suspension of two others, one of which is Officer Matthew Seeber. Police have refused to release the name of the third officer placed on leave.
“I should never find out about these sorts of confrontations through a third party,” Hawkins said earlier this week. “I fully expect that if there are any sorts of misconduct that our officers self-report, and clearly that didn’t happen in that case.”
Department spokesman Officer Steve Smith on Thursday couldn’t say whether responding officers had submitted official use-of-force reports to the department, and said the investigation is ongoing.
Police originally charged three men — Armando Sanchez, Mario Gorostiza and Anthony Childs —with a variety of offenses, including inciting a riot, resisting arrest and obstruction of governmental administration.
However, the video clip sent to Albany officials depicting an officer apparently beating one man prompted further review of officers’ body-worn cameras, Hawkins said. Officials said the initial review of the footage not only showed that Deer had violated department policy, but that he’d committed a crime too.
Smith said officials received the cellphone footage later March 16 and began their internal review two days later. On March 20, Deer was suspended, he said. It wasn’t until Tuesday that Deer was then charged with felony assault and misdemeanor official misconduct charges, and two other officers were suspended.