Section: CAPITAL REGION Page: B1 Date: Tuesday, July 18, 2000
DISORDERLY CONDUCT TRIAL TO RECALL ACTIONS OF POLICEBRENDAN LYONS Staff writer
The actions of police following a search last fall for an accused cop-shooter will be at the center of a trial this week of one of three men arrested on unrelated charges that day.The arrests sparked allegations of police misconduct and led to renewed calls for a civilian review board in Albany. Three men were arrested on Nov. 13, 1999, in the hours after police swept through the predominantly black Arbor Hill neighborhood in search of a suspect who allegedly shot two officers earlier that day on North Swan Street. Community leaders accused police of being overzealous during the heated search for Tracy Grady, 34, the man accused of shooting the officers. Almasi Forrest, whose trial on disorderly conduct and resisting-arrest charges begins Wednesday, and two other men accused police of using racial epithets and excessive force as they were arrested outside Fat Dee's market at the corner of Clinton Avenue and North Swan Street. The three, along with the owner of Fat Dee's, have filed a $6 million federal claim against the city. Sworn affidavits from several witnesses expected to testify at Forrest's trial, which begins Wednesday morning in City Court, depict police as the aggressors when they arrested Forrest, along with Warren Washington and Sean Foskey, the son of a city council member.
James Davis Jr., a barber who was cutting hair at a shop across Clinton Avenue when the melee unfolded, told internal affairs detectives that Forrest had his hands up and was cooperating with police when they allegedly began pushing him. ``I saw one of the cops hit this guy (Forrest) who was on the ground,'' Davis' statement says. ``This cop hit this guy about three times in his lower leg with either a flashlight or a nightstick.'' Another witness, Mamie Maxwell of Clinton Avenue, indicated in her sworn statement that she heard one officer call one of the men a racial epithet and shout other obscenities. She described that officer as a ``heavy set ... white male'' wearing a helmet. Nine officers are still facing internal disciplinary charges in connection with the incident. Police Chief John C. Nielsen said the department is seeking to fire one officer and suspend three others. The other five officers were to receive counseling for their roles in the incident, the chief said. Even though Maxwell gave a detailed description of the officer she believes used a racial epithet, Nielsen said internal affairs detectives were unable to determine precisely who it was. ``We weren't able to label one officer or another who definitely exhibited that behavior,'' Nielsen said. ``I didn't then, nor do I now, blame them for something I couldn't prove.''
The arrests took place around 12:20 p.m., about 10 hours after officers Stanley Nadoraski and Thomas Shea were shot and seriously wounded. A SWAT team conducted a door-to-door search for Grady after the shooting, but the search ended before the melee erupted outside Fat Dee's. Police say Forrest, Foskey and Washington, who then worked as a clerk at Fat Dee's, allegedly refused orders to move on while a fourth man was being arrested on minor marijuana possession charges. Police insist the arrests were unrelated to the search for Grady, who was captured several weeks later outside an Atlanta homeless shelter. City Court Judge John C. Egan Jr. on Monday subpoenaed the department's records from the internal affairs investigation of the incident. It's possible the judge may release the materials to Randall E. Kehoe, the attorney representing Forrest, Foskey and Washington. The identities of the Albany police officers facing disciplinary charges in the incident have not been made public by the department. But those names may be revealed during the trials of Forrest and the others if they are called to testify.