Schenectady County

3 city cops may face indictment

Three of the five Schenectady Police officers on leave since December as part of a brutality probe f

Three of the five Schenectady Police officers on leave since December as part of a brutality probe face possible indictments this morning in Schenectady County Court, an attorney involved in the case said Thursday.

Cheryl Coleman, attorney for Officer Eric Reyell, said the state Attorney General’s Office has asked her client to be in court. They would not confirm to her an indictment, but she said she expects one.

She also said two of the four other officers have been asked to be present.

“I imagine it’s some sort of arraignment tomorrow, but they haven’t said, per se,” Coleman said. “I don’t know for what.”

She said she has been in contact with attorneys for the other four officers and she said two of them have also been asked to be in court. She did not know which ones.

The five officers have been the target for months of a Schenectady County grand jury investigating allegations from a Pattersonville man that police used excessive force against him.

Reyell did not testify before the grand jury, Coleman said. She said she didn’t believe the other officers testified either.

The Schenectady County Court schedule for today includes a note for an arraignment resulting from “sealed indictment 1911.” No other information is given. That arraignment is to be before Judge Karen Drago.

Coleman expects Reyell to plead innocent to any charges.

“They say you can indict a ham sandwich, and it’s true,” Coleman said. “If there’s an indictment, let them have the indictment.”

Any case will be vigorously defended, she said.


The incident in question happened Dec. 7, 2007, with the arrest of 37-year-old Donald Randolph in the McDonald’s parking lot on Union Street.

He was initially charged with felony driving while intoxicated and other counts. He pleaded guilty in May to a drastically reduced charge of misdemeanor aggravated unlicensed operation.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said then that the plea was because of an unusually weak case, with the arresting officer, Andrew Karaskiewicz, not doing sobriety tests and not even witnessing Randolph driving.

The other four officers came into play shortly after, when Randolph was placed in the police car and transferred to a prisoner wagon six blocks away.

The wagon was driven by Daryl Mallard. The three other officers arrived separately in patrol cars, partners Reyell and Kevin Derkowski in one car and Gregory Hafensteiner in another.

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 recused his office and handed the case to the state.

Randolph, who was not seriously injured, has since filed a claim against the city seeking damages.

All five officers have been on paid leave since December. By the end of May, they had been paid more than $110,000 to stay home. Updated numbers were not available Thursday.

The outside investigation was necessary, Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said, because there was some evidence to suggest that the conduct of one or more of the five was a violation of the law.

Bennett said Thursday he had not been notified of any pending charges or otherwise. He said he will await an announcement before deciding what to do next.

Police union president Lt. Robert Hamilton said in May that the union remained unhappy that the men are still out. He said he felt they’ve done nothing to deserve an outside investigation.

Hamilton could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Categories: Schenectady County

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