Schenectady

Schenectady OKs $225K payout to criminal suspect attacked by K9

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Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — The city has paid out $225,000 to a suspect who was attacked by a K9 while being taken into custody last spring during a drug arrest.

The K9 attacked Ramel Gentry in May 2019 as he was being arrested in the parking lot of the Family Dollar on Eastern Avenue.

Gentry, who was suspected of selling drugs to a confidential informant, exited his vehicle and was lying facedown on the ground at the time and handcuffed from behind.

Then he was attacked by the K9, according to his attorney, Kevin Luibrand.

“He was fully compliant beforehand,” Luibrand said. “The Shepherd bit down on his shoulder at the base of his neck and then wouldn’t let go.”

The narrative was confirmed through body-worn camera footage, Luibrand said.

Gentry, 34, incurred “significant injury,” including multiple lacerations to his neck area that required stitches.

Gentry also went into convulsions from blood loss and required immediate medical treatment.

The claim, which initially sought $500,000, alleged excessive force and accused officers of negligently handling a canine.

The specific catalyst for the attack is unclear, Luibrand said, because there’s no sound from the body-cameras for the time period immediately preceding the incident.

“The sounds start once that attack has begun,” Luibrand said.

Police Chief Eric Clifford said Gentry was actively resisting arrest as he was physically removed from the vehicle, and the dog that attacked him once he was handcuffed did so without being given commands from his handler.

“The dog did it unprovoked,” Clifford said. “That dog has since been retired.”

Clifford attributed the audio gap to “user error” on behalf of the officer.

At the time, the devices were just beginning to be introduced to the force.

“It was not intentional,” Clifford said. “When this occurred, body cameras were fairly recent.”

Gentry is serving 1 to 3 years in state prison for criminal possession of a controlled substance and is eligible for release in 2022.

Luibrand reached a deal with the city in mid-October, which was signed on Oct. 27 and the payout disbursed on Nov. 8.

The Times Union first reported on the settlement on Sunday.

“We felt confident in the resolution that we came to and it was just a super-unfortunate situation,” said city Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo, chair of the city’s Claims Committee. “We got to a good place on both sides.”

The city faces at least one outstanding lawsuit accusing police officers of using excessive force.

The widow of a man killed by city police in 2016 is suing the city and the two detectives involved in the shooting.

Chrystal Scism claims detectives used excessive force when they shot and killed Joshua Scism near his home on First Avenue during an encounter on June 13, 2016.

The lawsuit, filed in 2018, claims Scism was walking away from the two detectives and was unarmed. Police contend he pulled a handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the detectives.

The matter remains unresolved, said city Corporation Counsel Andrew Koldin on Monday.

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