Schenectady County

Mother, son file excessive force complaint against Rotterdam cops

Rotterdam police are investigating an excessive force complaint lodged against three of its officers
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Town police are investigating an excessive force complaint lodged against three of its officers, including a sergeant who faced similar allegations in a federal lawsuit filed against the town nearly two years ago.

The complaint alleges Sgt. Robert Denny choked Lisa West, while the two other officers, Jeffrey Amoroso and Vincent Stone, attempted to arrest her son, Kenneth West Jr., outside her Greenpoint Avenue residence. The complaint also claims Stone tackled Kenneth West after Denny ordered the other officers to arrest him.

Deputy Chief William Manikas acknowledged the department has launched an internal investigation into the complaint. Manikas said investigators have reviewed the complaint and interviewed the officers involved. He said all three remain on active duty, but could face disciplinary action if the allegations are proven.

“However, the officers’ versions of the events are drastically different than Mr. West’s and Mrs. West’s versions,” Manikas said Tuesday.

The complaint stems from the Feb. 14 arrest involving Kenneth West, who was flagged down by Amoroso after he allegedly rolled through a stop sign in front of his family’s home. Shortly after the stop, West claims he and the officer argued and Stone became involved in the incident.

West said the officers ordered him out of his truck and threatened to use pepper spray to bring him under control. The situation cooled, West said, until Denny arrived, ordered the officers to arrest West and watched as Stone tackled West to the ground.

West alleges Denny then approached his mother, who walked to the scene from her home and was yelling at the officers to leave her son alone. Both Wests claim Denny grabbed Lisa West by the throat and pushed her away from the scene.

The mother claims Denny “lost self control” and repeatedly struck her in the chest and arms. In her statement, she said Denny accused all of her children of being “delinquents.”

An arrest record from the evening shows Kenneth West was charged with misdemeanor obstructing justice and disorderly conduct, failing to produce a license and disobeying a stop sign, all violations. He was later cited on a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

West pleaded not guilty to all the charges earlier this month and was released without bail. He is scheduled to reappear in court next week.

Lisa West was not charged.

Denny was named in a federal lawsuit filed against the town by Donald Garry, a local man with a lengthy rap sheet who was facing a life sentence in prison last year for being a predicate felon. Garry claimed Denny smashed his head into a wall numerous times “without any cause or provocation” while he awaited arraignment on several misdemeanor charges in August 2005.

Town Board members agreed to settle the case for $16,000 in December 2007, even though they claimed there was no evidence suggesting Denny did anything wrong. The town attorney said settling the case would inevitably cost the town far less than taking it to trial.

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