Section: CAPITAL REGION Page: B1 Date: Monday, March 6, 2000
DECISION COULD REVEAL OFFICERSBRENDAN J. LYONS Staff writer
Albany The identities of the Albany police officers facing disciplinary charges in an incident that sparked allegations of police misconduct may be revealed as a result a judge's decision not to dismiss minor charges against at least one of the men arrested. In a ruling issued late last week, City Court Judge John C. Egan Jr. declined a defense lawyer's request to dismiss the minor charges pending against Warren Washington.
Washington was among three men arrested in the hours after an intensive police search of the city's Arbor Hill section for a black suspect who allegedly shot two white officers on North Swan Street. Some black community leaders accused police of being overzealous in their search for Tracy Grady, 33, the man accused of shooting Officers Stanley Nadoraski and Thomas Shea. Washington, along with Almasi Forrest and Sean Foskey, were charged with disorderly conduct. Police say the three refused orders to move on while a fourth man was being arrested on minor marijuana possession charges. Foskey and Washington also were charged with resisting arrest.
It was not immediately clear late Sunday if the judge had issued a similar decision on the charges pending against Forrest and Foskey. But the judge's decision means the officers involved -- whose names have not been released by the department -- may have to testify publicly about their roles in the arrests should the cases go to trial, attorneys involved in the case said. The development comes at a time when the police department already is seeking to suspend three officers and fire a fourth over their actions related to the arrests outside Fat Dee's Market on Nov. 13. But city police to date have declined to make public the internal charges lodged against the officers facing discipline over the arrests.
Community leaders complained the arrests were racially charged and illustrated that police were overreacting and emotional in the hours after the officers were shot. Witnesses claim officers used a racial slur and excessive force. The crowded corner in front of Fat Dee's erupted when about a dozen police began arresting bystanders. ``The cops were saying: `You know you're not supposed to be outside when two cops have been shot,' '' Forrest said during an interview in December. ``I was getting kicked while I was cuffed and one cop sprayed (pepper spray) down my pants while I was lying on the ground. They were kicking me in my face.'' Forrest said the corner -- about two blocks from where the shootings occurred -- erupted when a detective suddenly slapped a cup of coffee out of his hand. ``Then a cop jumped on my back and as soon as I hit the ground they started spraying me with (pepper spray),'' Forrest said. ``It was just like one cop jumped and they all jumped,'' said Foskey, 24, who is the son of Albany Common Council Member Shirley Foskey. Washington claims he walked outside the store to observe the melee and an unidentified officer allegedly stated: ``Mind your business, (racial epithet).''
Darryl Lahon, the owner of Fat Dee's, joined Foskey, Forrest and Washington in filing a $6 million civil rights claim against the city on Friday. A store surveillance tape captured portions of the incident and shows at least one officer kicking at something on the ground. The tape also shows Washington, the 29-year-old store clerk, being slammed against an outside window by an officer while handcuffed. The three men are represented by attorney Randall E. Kehoe of Albany, who contends police and prosecutors have not offered proof supporting the charges. ``It's almost as if they're failing to prosecute,'' Kehoe said. ``When they took them to the station to book them, it took them 10 minutes to decide who was going to arrest Washington. They were arguing about who's going to be the guy to put his name on the criminal information.'' Foskey claims he never resisted arrest and was sprayed in the face with pepper spray for no reason as he stood watching the scene. Forrest claims he was kicked, punched and sprayed with pepper spray by officers as he observed the arrest of his brother, Oliver, on a minor marijuana possession charge.