Schenectady County

City police officer innocent of harassment in domestic dispute

A Schenectady police officer was found innocent of harassment against his wife during a trial Monday
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A Schenectady police officer was found innocent of harassment against his wife during a trial Monday in City Court, but John Lewis still faces a more serious charge and remains suspended from the department without pay.

Lewis is scheduled to appear in City Court in July to face a charge of misdemeanor criminal contempt for disobeying an order of protection. If the charge is not settled by then, he will remain suspended but will receive full pay. The 14-year veteran earns a base pay of $51,510.

City Court Judge Guido Loyola found Lewis innocent of the harassment charge following a two-hour non-jury trial. Lewis’s estranged wife, Alison Fitz Lewis, filed the charge against him in April, accusing him of grabbing and pushing her during a dispute over their child on Plymouth Avenue.

The police department suspended Lewis for 30 days, the maximum, at the time and Loyola issued the order of protection for his wife. The department also launched an internal investigation, which remains open, said police spokesman Lt. Brian Kilcullen.

“The internal investigation will determine his employment status,” Kilcullen said.

Depending on the outcome, Lewis could be reinstated without issue, face a fine or other sanctions, or he could be fired, Kilcullen said.

Police filed the criminal contempt charge after Fitz Lewis accused her husband of contacting her between June 10 and 11, Kilcullen said. “That is our policy in domestic incidents. We want to remove the victim as much as possible to allow the case to proceed,” he said.

Lewis is accused of phoning his wife at her work, saying he was going there. Five hours later, at Eastern Avenue and McClellan Street, Lewis allegedly drove by her and called her cell phone, according to papers filed in City Court. Shortly after, Lewis allegedly pulled into the parking lot of a tavern she was at and called her again on her cell phone and on the business phone.

On Monday, Assistant District Attorney Michele Schettino asked Loyola to issue a full order of protection against Lewis. Loyola instead told Lewis not to have any contact with his wife except to visit their 3-year-old son.

Lewis’ attorney, Michael Horan, argued against the order of protection, saying the order would prevent the police officer from working. The couple are legally separated and are seeking a divorce.

City officials tried to get Lewis fired 10 years ago over accusations he used a racial slur during an off-duty incident on Feb. 27, 1998, behind the city police headquarters on Liberty Street. Several people overheard the remark.

Lewis kept his job after an arbitrator ruled the city was “unduly harsh” in firing him.

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