Jury hears witness’ account of accident involving Schenectady cop

Prior to the accident, Mark Viscusi testified, he and Darren Lawrence were drinking in a bar in Rott

Mark Viscusi watched at a bar in Rotterdam as his sister’s boyfriend, Darren Lawrence, got into an argument with another patron, Viscusi testified in court today.

The two had been drinking beer and shots, at least four rounds of shots, keeping up with each other.

The next thing Viscusi remembered from early that morning, Oct. 14, 2006, was being upside down in a car.

“The car was upside down and water was coming in my window,” Viscusi testified. “I really didn’t know what was going on.

He was in the passenger seat, no steering wheel in front of him, Viscusi testified.

Lawrence, who Schenectady officials are still seeking to fire from his job as a city police officer, is on trial in Colonie Town Court on one count of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. He is accused of being the driver that night when the car carrying him and Viscusi left the Northway and rolled into a median.

Lawrence also faces a violation count of harassment. He allegedly attacked Viscusi after the accident.

Lawrence is being represented by attorney Michael McDermott, who told the jury that Lawrence wasn’t the driver that night. The driver was Viscusi, he said.

In his own questioning of Viscusi this morning, McDermott started right off trying to get Viscusi to admit that he didn’t know if he himself was driving the car at the time of the accident.

“You could have been the driver of the car at the time the accident occurred?” McDermott asked.

“That’s correct,” Viscusi responded.

Also testifying this morning was Amy Viscusi, Mark’s wife. She told about a series of phone calls early that morning among Lawrence, herself and Dena Viscusi, Mark’s sister. Amy Viscusi and Dena Viscusi were together.

In those calls, Lawrence repeatedly told them Mark Viscusi was driving.

But Amy Viscusi didn’t believe him. Mark didn’t get on the phone once, she said, and she didn’t even hear him in the background.

That led her to believe Mark wasn’t driving, that he was passed out.

“Mark would have gotten on the phone,” Amy Viscusi testified.

It was Lawrence who finally freed him, smashing in the window from the outside of the car, Mark Viscusi testified under questioning from prosecutor Lincy Jacob.

Viscusi believed they were still in Schenectady. In fact, they weren’t even in Schenectady County. They were off the Northway in Colonie. Viscusi said he didn’t learn that until later.

Viscusi said Lawrence told him to run, and they hurried up the embankment. It was about 4 a.m. Then they left the highway, went “down somewhere. We were just out there,” Viscusi said. Soon, the accident caught up with him. Viscusi’s back hurt. He wanted to call his sister, call the police. The car they left behind was owned by his sister Dena.

“It was like a switch flipped,” Viscusi testified of Lawrence’s reaction to his suggestion that he call his sister. “He flipped. He attacked and said he wasn’t going to lose his job over this and he just repeatedly started beating me.” Viscusi remembered repeated “soccer kicks” to his face and punches to the back of his head. Lawrence also choked him, he said, and he recalled blowing blood out his nose to breathe.

Lawrence face a violation level harassment charge for the alleged attack. More serious assault charges were never filed.

Viscusi said he finally got away and ran to a nearby house. He looked back and Lawrence wasn’t there.

A woman who lived in the area of the incident also testified, saying she heard a fight, but didn’t see it. She called police.

The defense concedes there was a fight after the acicdent, but contends it was fueled by Viscusi.

Viscusi, McDermott told the jury in his openings, told Lawrence to say he was driving because Viscusi could lose his license and be unable to work.

McDermott asked Viscusi if he punched Lawrence. Viscusi said he didn’t.

“I remember everything,” Viscusi said.

“Suddenly your recollection clicks on conveniently?” McDermott responded.

Jacob object to the question as argumentative.

McDermott tried again, showing Viscusi a photo McDermott said was of Lawrence after the accident.

McDermott asked Viscusi if that was how Lawrence looked “after you punched him?” Viscusi answered no, with McDermott following up with “how many times did you punch him?” “I didn’t punch him,” Viscusi responded.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

Leave a Reply