Schenectady County

Former Schenectady police officer’s sentencing delayed

Former city police officer Kyle Hunter appeared in court for the first time as a civilian Friday, bu

Former city police officer Kyle Hunter appeared in court for the first time as a civilian Friday, but he did not get sentenced for the crimes that led him to resign from the force.

Under the plea deal that required his resignation, Hunter is expected to get probation for two misdemeanors.

However, Hunter’s attorney, Michael Horan, objected Friday to the probation requirements, saying they were “extensive” and based on inaccuracies.

“I have concerns about a good deal of the probation report,” he said. “There are some conclusions I can’t fathom here.”

He did not offer details publicly.

Hunter was accused of domestic violence, but pleaded guilty only to violating an order of protection by texting the woman under protection.

Judge Karen Drago allowed Horan a two-week adjournment to discuss the report with Hunter’s probation officer.

That means Hunter’s final punishment will be announced after Officer John Lewis’ fate is determined.

Lewis’ punishment will be announced by Mayor Brian U. Stratton on Monday, no later than 5 p.m.

Lewis is accused of driving drunk, having alcohol-fueled arguments with his ex-wife, stalking her, threatening to kill her and any man he found her with, and a variety of other anger- and alcohol-related incidents. None of the alleged incidents occurred while he was while on duty.

Stratton has not said whether he will fire the officer, but his team of attorneys argued forcefully that Lewis was unfit to serve and a disgrace to the department. Lewis’ attorney has admitted that Lewis has a drinking problem, but argued for treatment rather than punishment. He also said Lewis has been held to a higher standard than most city residents, to the point where police would go out of their way to arrest him.

A hearing officer considered the arguments and issued his recommendation this past Monday. Stratton makes the final decision, but is expected to follow the hearing officer’s recommendation in an effort to avoid a costly appeal.

While no one has spoken publicly about the recommendation, Hearing Officer Jeffrey M. Selchick said he emphasized in his report that no officer is above the law. He also wrote about the need to hold police to high standards even when they are off duty.

“I talk about the high standards expected for police on and off duty,” he said of the report. “You take an oath to uphold the law. How an officer views the law in his or her personal life says a great deal about how he or she views it on duty.”

Selchick was expected to hear Hunter’s case as well, but the district attorney’s office negotiated a plea deal in which Hunter agreed to resign in exchange for most of the charges against him being dropped.

He was accused of using his ex-girlfriend’s car without authorization in March 2009, forcing her to call her supervisors at the county jail to report that she would be late to work. Police instituted a manhunt and even called out the county sheriff’s K-9 team to search for him.

He was found the next day. She obtained an order of protection. A month later, Hunter was accused of violating that order of protection by kicking in her door.

But that summer, she did not show up for his trial. There were indications that she did not want to testify against him; the two had contact several times, and Horan said the woman sent Hunter a number of text messages.

Hunter was charged with two counts of felony criminal contempt for responding to those text messages. He was also accused of threatening and pushing the woman, but she was not injured. If convicted of either felony, he would have automatically lost his job as a police officer.

In February, Hunter was offered a deal: if he resigned from the force, he could plead guilty to misdemeanor contempt for sending the text messages. He agreed.

Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham said the deal was fair because the woman was not physically harmed and Hunter had no prior criminal history.

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