Schenectady County

Albany police officer cleared of assault charges

Suspended Albany police Officer Robert Schunk was acquitted on felony and misdemeanor assault charge
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Suspended Albany police Officer Robert Schunk was acquitted on felony and misdemeanor assault charges following a jury trial in Albany County Court this week.

The 39-year-old city man was accused of pushing former girlfriend Barbara Waters down a flight of stairs, pressing a service revolver to her head and making her beg for her life. But jurors determined that the prosecution didn’t meet the threshold of evidence to convict him on either second-degree or third-degree assault.

It was unclear if Schunk has been reinstated to the force. Albany police spokesman James Miller did not return a call for comment Thursday evening.

Schunk still faces charges in Saratoga County. In April 2010, he was charged with harassment, trespassing and criminal mischief for an alleged incident at Waters’ home in Halfmoon.

During the trial, defense attorney Cheryl Coleman depicted Waters as the one who was initially hostile in the January 2009 encounter. She noted that it was more than a year later when Waters filed a report against Schunk. She said Waters only reported the incident because she was under arrest for ransacking Schunk’s home in the spring of 2010.

“She wanted a get out of jail free card, and she got it,” Coleman said during her opening statements. “She walked away scot free.”

Special prosecutor Lyn Murphy said Waters went to Schunk’s home in January 2009 to retrieve her belongings when she was viciously attacked.

Murphy said Schunk pushed Waters down six or seven stairs. Later, she said he used a gun to threaten her.

“He put his knee in her back as he held her down and ground the gun into her skull with such force that it left a goose egg,” she said during the trial. “She begged for her life.”

Coleman described their relationship as being often turbulent. She said Waters manipulated men, including Schunk and her husband, with whom she was living while having affairs with other men.

“We think of a terrified, subjugated, powerless woman worthy of our sympathy and attention,” she said. “But it won’t take long for you to come to realize those natural fears are unwarranted and misplaced in this case.”

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