A Schenectady police officer escaped serious injury early Friday when his patrol car was broadsided by an allegedly drunk driver, police said.
The injured officer, Darren Lawrence, is the same officer who is awaiting trial related to an off-duty October 2006 crash in Colonie, one in which he is accused of fleeing the scene of a rollover.
In Friday’s crash Lawrence reported neck and back pain. He was treated at Ellis Hospital and released and is expected to miss some work as he recovers, police department spokesman Christopher Wrubel said.
Lawrence was driving through the intersection of Union and Lafayette streets on the green light just after 1 a.m. when he was hit by a car driven by 23-year-old Aaron W. Kopp of Niskayuna, police reported.
Kopp, of 2149 Orchard Park Drive, and an unnamed passenger were not injured. But police said Kopp’s blood alcohol content was 0.19 percent, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving while intoxicated in New York.
Both Kopp and his passenger were found by arriving officers on scene. Neither left, Wrubel said.
A message left at Kopp’s home was not returned. He is being represented by attorney Michael Horan, who could not be reached for comment.
Kopp was charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated DWI, misdemeanors, and passing a red light, an infraction.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney, who said he had not been briefed on the case, said DWI charges can be upgraded based on injury inflicted.
Lawrence is the second city police officer injured by an alleged drunk driver in three weeks.
Officer Kevin Kilcullen suffered back, neck, knee and leg injuries in a crash at 2:53 a.m. on Dec. 23. Kilcullen was sitting in his parked cruiser in front of 1010 State St. when the vehicle was rear-ended.
Derek Harris, 27, of 57 Quail St., was charged with misdemeanor counts of DWI, aggravated DWI, driving while ability impaired by drugs and reckless driving. He also faces a felony count of aggravated unlicensed operation and unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation.
In Kilcullen’s case, the irony was that he is a DWI enforcement officer with the department’s Traffic Services Unit.
Lawrence was arrested in October 2006, accused of crashing a car on Interstate 87, fleeing the scene and attacking his friend and passenger, Mark Viscusi, during the flight. Lawrence denies being the driver, saying Viscusi was. The case remains open.
In a statement released later, Dena Viscusi — Lawrence’s girlfriend at that time and Mark Viscusi’s sister — told police of a bizarre cellphone conversation early that morning where Lawrence repeatedly said Mark Viscusi was driving. But she said she believed it was Lawrence driving. The men were in her car, which crashed.
Lawrence, a six-year veteran of the Schenectady force, was suspended without pay for 30 days. He returned to duty in January 2007.
He faces counts of misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident and violation harassment in Colonie. He remains free on $1,000 bail.
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