Gun recovered after Tuesday night crash, police say; Bystander says police injured him in search for driver

Driver fled scene and continues to be sought
Almasi Christopher Johnson, 18, explains his injuries after being detained by Schenectady Police
Almasi Christopher Johnson, 18, explains his injuries after being detained by Schenectady Police

SCHENECTADY — A report Tuesday night about a fight that involved a gun led to a vehicle crash and a search for a suspect, police said Wednesday.

The man suspected of being in possession of the gun eluded capture after the crash in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood, and police were still searching for him on Wednesday, police spokesman Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon said.

The incident, however, resulted in police briefly detaining a man who was later let go, police confirmed. A man later identified himself to The Daily Gazette as the person detained and said he suffered an injury to his wrist and his cellphone screen was broken as police detained him. He also provided a brief video with audio of a portion of what he said was the officer approaching him.

The underlying incident began just after 10 p.m. in the Bellevue neighborhood, McCutcheon said.

Police received a report of a fight involving a group of people near the corner of Fairview Avenue and Sixth Street, during which one person pointed a gun at another, McCutcheon said. Police also received information that the suspect fled with the handgun in a silver Nissan.

The handgun seen on the driver’s side floorboard. Photo by Peter Barber/Gazette photographer

Responding officers spotted a car that matched the suspect’s vehicle on Broadway. When they attempted to stop it, it fled up Congress Street at a high rate of speed.

“As the officer caught up to the vehicle, he observed that it crashed into three parked cars,” McCutcheon said. 

It was unclear if anyone other than the suspect was in the vehicle at the time. None of the parked cars struck were occupied.

Inside the car, officers found a loaded .40-caliber handgun in plain view, McCutcheon said.

McCutcheon had no description of the suspect. He described those involved in the initial fight as somewhat uncooperative.

During the manhunt for the suspect, though, police did detain someone and later released him.

Almasi Christopher Johnson, 18, of Schenectady said he had ran about a block from the home he was hanging out at on Congress Street to the scene after he heard a “big bang” from the crash. He said he stood across the street and recorded the incident with his cellphone before being approached by a police officer.

In a 22-second video Johnson said he took with his cellphone, which he shared with The Daily Gazette, a man Johnson identified as an officer could be heard approaching him and asking him where he was coming from.

“Why are you all out of breath?” the officer could be heard asking Johnson.

When Johnson told him he had run up the street, the officer asked him, “Yeah, why are you running?”

It was then, Johnson said, the officer took the phone out of his hand, bent his arm back, twisted his wrist, handcuffed him and put him in the back of a police car. Johnson said he repeatedly told the officer that he hadn’t done anything.

Johnson said he didn’t get the name of the officer.

“They were being really aggressive with me for no reason,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he was later released by the police and was allowed to leave. When he asked why they detained him, he said police told him he “fit the description of a black male.”

Johnson eventually was taken to Ellis Hospital. He was released around 5 a.m. with a splint, he said.

Johnson said doctors told him that his wrist might be sprained. He was also instructed to get it checked out for a possible scaphoid fracture if it continued to hurt for another week or so.

The police officer eventually returned his phone to him, but the screen was cracked, Johnson said,

The incident has left him scared of police, he said.

“It just hurts me,” Johnson said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

McCutcheon could not confirm Johnson’s account. He would only say that a male was detained for investigation and was later released. He referred all other questions to the department’s Office of Professional Standards.

A call to that department was not immediately returned.

The incident follows one on Sunday in which a car crashed into a Becker Street porch near Elder Street. The driver of that vehicle also fled on foot after the crash, and police could be seen recovering a gun from the middle of Elder Street afterward. No arrests have been reported in that case.


Also Wednesday: 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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