Charge dismissed against trooper who hit man in Fulton County

A Fulton County grand jury voted Friday to dismiss the felony charge against Brian Beardsley, a form

A Fulton County grand jury voted Friday to dismiss the felony charge against Brian Beardsley, a former state trooper who ran over a Northville man and then left the scene of the accident.

Hamilton County District Attorney James Curry, who was assigned as special prosecutor in the case against Beardsley, on Tuesday morning announced the grand jury’s decision to not indict him, which brings the criminal case to a close.

Authorities determined that 29-year-old Chad Finch was lying in the road around 2:40 a.m. May 22 when Beardsley ran over him with his pickup truck.

After a three-day session, the grand jury considering the case declined to indict Beardsley, 32, of Amsterdam, for leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

“This grand jury discharged its duties carefully and diligently,” Curry said in a news release issued Tuesday.

Nearly four months after the incident, it remains unclear whether Finch was already deceased when Beardsley’s truck hit him.

“Mr. Finch may have been deceased before Mr. Beardsley came along, that’s certainly a possibility,” said Curry. “I think after Beardsley had contact with Mr. Finch it was really clear that Mr. Finch was deceased. There would be no mistaking it.”

But an autopsy revealed that Finch died of injuries sustained when the truck hit him. Physical evidence on the truck’s undercarriage supports the determination that Finch died from multiple blunt force trauma.

Curry said in the news release that the purpose of the Vehicle and Traffic Law section on leaving accidents is to ensure that the operators of motor vehicles involved in an incident where personal injury has occurred not evade the potential civil or criminal responsibilities arising out of the incident by failing to establish their identity to the injured person or to the police.

The grand jury found no basis for the felony charge, as the statute doesn’t specify the means or method to be used in making the report.

Beardsley, an eight-year veteran who worked out of the Mayfield barracks, was off duty at the time of the accident. Beardsley’s girlfriend called police from a cellphone at 2:41 a.m. May 22 to report that there was a body on the side of the roadway.

When police arrived, there were no vehicles at the scene. Finch’s body was found in the southbound lane, in the area south of 1246 County Highway 110 in the town of Broadalbin.

The statute doesn’t require that the defendant remain at the scene of the incident if no one is present, Curry said.

The statute also does not specify the time period within which the operator must report the incident if there is no one at the scene to report it to.

Section 600, part two of the Vehicle and Traffic Law says that “any person operating a motor vehicle who, knowing that personal injury has been caused to another person, due to an incident involving the motor vehicle operated by such person, shall report said incident as soon as physically able to the nearest police station or judicial officer if no police officer is in the vicinity of the place of said injury.”

Police traced the 911 call that morning to Beardsley’s girlfriend and confiscated his truck within 90 minutes in Amsterdam. After inspection, it was determined that the 2008 Nissan pickup truck had run over Finch.

Beardsley was driving south on County Highway 110 and told investigators he observed something in the roadway and turned around to see what it was. He said he discovered the victim’s body and his girlfriend then called police.

“The evidence indicated that a call was made to the police, which notified them of the incident,” Curry said in the news release.

Beardsley provided specific answers to all questions police asked, Curry said, including his location after he turned himself in.

“The defendant gave additional specifics during a face-to-face interview, consented to have the vehicle he operated taken as evidence and provided a breath sample to determine if he had consumed alcohol,” Curry said in the news release.

Evidence indicated Beardsley was neither impaired nor intoxicated at the time of the accident, the release said. It’s unknown how long after the incident authorities administered a blood-alcohol test on Beardsley, though.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department denied a request for the investigation report in June by The Daily Gazette under the state Freedom of Information Law.

Beardsley was suspended without pay May 24 and left the state police force in mid-June, when an internal police investigation of his actions concluded. The state declined to say whether he resigned or was fired.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office originally lodged the felony charge against Beardsley. Curry, an out-of-county prosecutor, was assigned the case because Beardsley was an arresting officer in several Fulton County Court cases.

“[The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office] made a difficult decision under difficult circumstances,” said Curry. “I have no qualm with the decision they made and there’s no deficiency in their work that contributed to this disposition. They did a good job and they’re good people.”

Beardsley’s attorney Ronald Schur did not return calls for comment Tuesday, and his secretary said his office has no comment.

Calls to Beardsley’s residence Tuesday went unanswered.

Finch’s family also could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He left behind a 10-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, as well as other family members.

Categories: Schenectady County

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