Schenectady cop suspended for DWAI

Police Officer Daniel Coppola was charged on May 13
Schenectady police Officer Daniel Coppola is pictured on May 17.
Schenectady police Officer Daniel Coppola is pictured on May 17.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — Schenectady police Officer Daniel Coppola, who pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired after a car crash in May, has been suspended, according to a department spokesman.

Sgt. Matt Dearing confirmed Coppola was suspended but would not say whether it was with or without pay, nor would he say for how long. He also would not say if the suspension was the result of an internal investigation into Coppola’s actions.

Dearing said he was only commenting on Coppola’s current employment status.

“We do not discuss discipline,” Dearing said.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens, who oversees the disciplinary process for the Police Department, said he could not comment on actions taken related to Coppola. He said a state civil rights law prevents him from doing so.

The public safety commissioner was given oversight of police discipline following an October Court of Appeals ruling that said Schenectady is covered by the Second Class Cities Law. That law also gives the public safety commissioner disciplinary oversight of the city’s Fire and Buildings departments.

The law allows for suspensions of up to 30 days. The next-greatest penalty that can be handed down is termination.

The city Police Department said an internal investigation of Coppola’s case was completed at the end of May.

Coppola was charged with driving while intoxicated early on the morning of May 13 after he was involved in a car crash at the intersection of Broadway and Liberty Street, just three blocks from the Police Department.

An arrest report showed Coppola had a blood alcohol content of 0.12 percent more than two hours after the crash occurred. The report also showed Coppola said he had been at 20 North Broadway and Union Inn, and that he said he only had two beers over the course of the evening.

The legal threshold for DWI is 0.08 percent.

Police said Coppola’s vehicle was hit by a car that ran a red light. The other car was operated by 27-year-old Yireh Pino, who police said was also driving the car with a suspended license.

In 911 audio obtained by The Daily Gazette through a Freedom of Information Law Request, Pino could be heard saying, “I just got T-boned.”

Police Chief Eric Clifford previously said Coppola called in the accident as well.

Pino was charged on May 18 with disobeying a traffic control device, a violation, and misdemeanor third-degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

She was scheduled to appear in court last month to be arraigned on those charges, but she never showed. A warrant was issued for her arrest.

Attempts by The Daily Gazette to reach Pino have been unsuccessful.

Coppola later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of DWAI. His plea required him to enroll in a victim impact panel and an impaired driver course. City Court Judge Teneka Frost ordered his license suspended for 90 days and that he surrender his license to the court. But Coppola was granted a 20-day stay on that suspension.

Coppola was then issued a non-restricted license good for 20 days. He had to enroll in an impaired driver course during the 20-day period in order to become eligible for a conditional license and avoid facing a full suspension of his license.

Once he completes the course, he is eligible to have his license full restored.

Andrew Safranko, Coppola’s attorney, did not return a request for comment.

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