Carney: Arrest evidence weak

The officer who arrested a man now at the center of a police excessive force case acted with scant i
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The officer who arrested a man now at the center of a police excessive force case acted with scant information, Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said.

The man who was arrested, Donald Randolph, 37, was initially charged with felony driving while intoxicated and felony aggravated unlicensed operation. He pleaded guilty Friday to one count of misdemeanor aggravated unlicensed operation and was sentenced to time already served — seven days in jail.

Arresting officer Andrew Karaskiewicz, Carney said, never did sobriety tests and never even saw Randolph driving.

Instead, Karaskiewicz noted an odor of alcohol and glassy eyes. He first spotted Randolph outside the vehicle, which was parked in the Union Street McDonald’s drive-through early Dec. 7, 2007.

“No field sobriety tests were done at any time,” Carney said. “He just summarily placed him under arrest.”

Five officers, including Karaskiewicz, remain on leave with pay as the state Attorney General’s Office investigates allegations that police later used excessive force on Randolph.

Randolph was placed in the police car and transferred to a prisoner wagon six blocks away. The wagon was driven by Officer Daryl Mallard. The three other officers arrived separately in patrol cars, partners Eric Reyell and Kevin Derkowski in one car and Gregory Hafensteiner in another.

ABUSE ALLEGATION

Randolph’s accusations are that one or more officers used excessive force and he was injured. Randolph‘s family alleged that a half-dozen officers beat him while arresting him and after Randolph tried to use a cellphone to call his girlfriend for help.

A police internal affairs investigation concluded Randolph’s complaint had merit, referring it to Carney’s office for possible criminal prosecution. Carney deferred to the state.

Randolph, who was not seriously injured, has since filed a claim against the city seeking damages. His attorney, George LaMarche, did not return calls for comment Friday.

There was no indication Friday how much longer the investigation would take. An attorney general’s spokesman declined to comment. However, the state investigation was not dependent on a resolution in the underlying Randolph case, Carney said.

Randolph never admitted he was driving — until Friday as part of the plea deal — Carney said. He also refused a blood-alcohol test, but that wasn’t offered until later, at the police station.

With the plea, Randolph admitted he was driving without a license, something else Karaskiewicz didn’t check before the arrest, Carney said.

Prosecutor Michael Tiffany handled the case against Randolph for the district attorney’s office. He spoke with Karaskiewicz early on, before the excessive force allegations surfaced, and soon determined there was no evidence for the drunk driving charge, Carney said.

Tiffany later attempted to get more information, but never heard back from the officers’ attorney.

Police union president Lt. Robert Hamilton did not return a call for comment Friday.

Randolph was also charged with violation-level harassment, accused of telling Karaskiewicz: “I’ll take care of you when you get off work.”

That, too, was unprosecutable, Carney said. The words were too vague to constitute a threat.

Tiffany, the office’s DWI prosecutor, has seen some cases with weak evidence, Carney said, but he can’t remember one with virtually no evidence, like Randolph’s.

The arrest was Randolph’s second in a month. He was charged Nov. 14, 2007, by the sheriff’s department with third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor.

That case was also wrapped up Friday with a guilty plea to facilitating third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation.

His total sentence was time served, amounting to seven days, and $700 in fines.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply