Albany officer punched as mayhem again sullies St. Pat’s Day fun
ALBANY Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t known as an especially peaceful holiday in Albany and a brawl on Saturday didn’t help shift the hooligan reputation.
Two years to the day since Pine Hills neighborhood house parties erupted in what has since been dubbed the “kegs and eggs riot,” St. Patrick’s Day celebrations sparked another bout of street violence.
As the city’s 63rd annual St. Patrick’s Day parade wound down around 4 p.m., Albany police officers on security duty noticed a fight near Washington Avenue and Swan Street.
“What you get after the families go home is the more immature members of the group,” said Albany Police Chief Steve Krokoff. “The fight was not characteristic of the actual event.”
Officials say police were trying to break up the fight when 18-year-old Clint Junco of Delmar lunged at one of the officers, punching him in the face. Junco was arrested along with Najee Bennett, 17, of Bethlehem, who allegedly was engaging in tumultuous behavior during the brawl.
Both face charges of disorderly conduct. Junco also was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, a class D felony.
In the days since the fight, police accounts were supplemented with handheld video posted online. It depicts some pushing and grabbing degenerating into a fistfight. Though the voice of the videographer is audible and his face is shown at the end of the clip, his identity is not clear.
The video shows brawlers dispersing as two officers show up with batons in hand but it ends before Junco allegedly took the swing at one of the officers.
“That happened off-camera,” Krokoff said, “but it was the same event.”
Krokoff watched the video himself but said his department will not be using the footage to track down some of the more violent participants.
“It’s not necessary,” he said, “No one has filed any assault complaints. If you look closely at the video it’s not that bad of a fight. It’s a bunch of adolescents throwing punches and missing. Their punishment will be forever being the way they are. Children.”
Two years ago, college house parties along Hudson Avenue overflowed into the street in a riot that led to 40 arrests, six on felony charges, after cars were overturned and vandalized. It changed the way Albany handles the holiday.
Krokoff put more officers on security detail and the University at Albany shifted its spring break so most students would be out of town over the holiday.
Officials at UAlbany said neither of the young men arrested attend the school.
Krokoff could not comment on alcohol’s involvement in the fight except to say, “We often have things like this when alcohol is the central theme of an event. It diminishes impulse control and people do things they wouldn’t do otherwise.”