SCHENECTADY — An Eastern Avenue resident is questioning what caused a Schenectady City Police officer to crash into two houses in the neighborhood early Thursday morning.
The crash happened about 6:45 a.m. as the officer’s patrol vehicle hit the two houses at 747 and 751 Eastern Ave.
The department later identified the officer driving the vehicle, an SUV, as patrol officer Josh Clifford, who was hired in February 2021 and is the nephew of the department’s top official, Chief Eric Clifford.
Around 6:35 a.m. Thursday, David Winslow of 750 Eastern Ave. was outside checking on his car when he saw the crash take place, he said Friday afternoon.
He said the patrol vehicle jumped the curb at the corner of Jackson Street and Eastern Avenue, drove onto the sidewalk, and smashed into the side of 751 Eastern Ave. before continuing on and hitting the steps of 747 Eastern Ave.
After that patrol vehicle came to a stop, Winslow said, another city vehicle pulled up with two officers.
He described a white officer anywhere from 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet one inch in height with dirty blonde/light brown colored hair with a mustache as getting out of the second police car and taking the place of the officer who was originally driving the vehicle that crashed.
He described that officer as being between 5 foot 9 inches and 5 feet 11 inches and having dark hair.
Winslow said he’s suspicious of talk that the crash was caused by black ice. “There was no black ice out there,” he said.
Police officials disputed Winslow’s claim about the change of officers behind the wheel of the patrol vehicle.
“What they’re saying they saw is 100% inaccurate,” said Sgt. Matt Dearing, a public information officer for the department.
He said Clifford was assigned to and driving the vehicle that day. Clifford was given a ride to the station afterward because his police SUV was inoperable due to the crash, Dearing said.
At the time of the crash, Clifford had a little over an hour left on his shift. He worked the 11:40 p.m. to 8 a.m. shift, Dearing said. Clifford’s work status remains unchanged with the department.
“The accident remains under investigation,” Dearing said. “As further information becomes available it will be released.”
There is a surveillance camera on a street pole at the corner of Prospect Street and Eastern Avenue. The department has not indicated whether footage from that camera is being reviewed.
The home at 751 Eastern Ave. sustained enough damage that the city placed a notice Thursday that there shouldn’t be occupants in the building.
Chief City Building Inspector Chris Lunn couldn’t be reached for further details.
The woman of one of the homes hit said she was staying at 747 Eastern Ave. the morning of the incident with her three kids. They are now at a hotel, even though the city did not remove them from their home. She said they are staying in a hotel because her kids are scared to be at the house.
She said 15 minutes later and her kids would have been walking out the front door for school.
A total of three adults and three kids live in the home.
A code violation notice was left on the door, just above the damaged steps, by the city code office on Thursday for homeowner Robert DeLucca. The city said the violation must be corrected by April 4.
DeLucca said he couldn’t believe that he received a violation. He said an officer, whose name he couldn’t recall, indicated that they would have the city public works department come to remove the stairs. That has not happened yet.
He also said his insurance does not cover this type of accident.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]
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Categories: -News-, Schenectady, Schenectady County
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“What they’re saying they saw is 100% inaccurate,”
Yeah, that’s not incriminating, is it?
DAVID WINSLOW…please…DO NOT let this poster-child for everything wrong with a municipal police department get away with this cover-up. Stand your ground and hold the SPD accountable; TRANSPARANCY must be applied to expose the truth that they are trying to hide. Haven’t they learned ANYTHING in the wake of George Floyd?
This is the same department that TOOK A KNEE to the BLM protesters. HYPOCRITES! Thrity years of documented corruption…a decade of DOJ oversight…and, what have they learned? NOTHING!!