Albany

Albany officer pleads guilty to assault in 2019 incident, resigns from force

Luke Deer - Albany County District Attorney's Office and file

Luke Deer - Albany County District Attorney's Office and file

ALBANY – A suspended Albany Police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor assault, admitting to assaulting a resident in an incident related to a loud party complaint in 2019, authorities said.

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Luke Deer, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree assault in the March 16, 2019 incident in the area of 523 First St. in Albany, Albany County District Attorney’s officials said.

Albany officers responded to the area after several calls for a loud party. A melee then ensued that resulted in the suspension of several officers, officials said.

His plea agreement required him to resign from the department. His resignation meant he abandoned his current challenge to department discipline and ended pending arbitration proceedings.

“Our priority in resolving this case was to ensure that this officer could no longer police the streets of Albany,” District Attorney David Soares said in a statement. “I commend the Chief of police for taking this seriously and I look forward to continuing to work with him and his administration to make sure that breakdowns like the one that occurred on First Street don’t happen again.”

The charge and discipline cases were backed by other body camera footage — all three cited officers had their cameras on — and a bystander’s video. The bystander’s video, given to a city employee, touched off the larger investigation officials said.

Deer has been receiving treatment through Veterans Affairs for the last two years during his suspension from the department, officials said. He must continue treatment for another year, with regular reports to the court, officials said.

Sentencing has been put out a year and if he successfully continues treatment and has no new arrests during that time, the court will permit him to withdraw his plea and substitute it for a non-criminal conviction, officials said.

Of the other officers suspended in the incident, a March 2021 arbitration decision reinstated one to his job with back pay, citing a lack of supervision and improper training. The incident also resulted in the city paying $100,000 to the victim of Deer’s actions, officials said.

Deer and another officer initially responded. Eight to 10 then arrived afterward, officials said previously.

Three people there were initially charged with inciting a riot, resisting arrest and other counts. As a result of the subsequent investigation, prosecutors moved to dismiss those charges, officials said previously.

The larger investigation began a day or so later, officials said then, when the bystander’s video made its way to the city and eventually the Police Department. An internal investigation then began.

The preliminary investigation determined Deer “clearly had acted inappropriately” and he was suspended without pay. After further interviews and review of the available body camera footage, police then charged Deer.

The videos also included offensive and inappropriate language for the situation, police said. Officials described it as profanity, not racial. There were no reports of racial comments, officials said.

Chief Assistant District Attorney David M. Rossi handled the prosecution.

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