SCHENECTADY — A Schenectady police officer “failed to negotiate” a turn before crashing into a pair of homes along Eastern Avenue back in March, according to a collision reconstruction report released this week by the department.
The 6-page report determined that Patrol Officer Joshua Clifford was finishing his last patrol on an overnight shift and was traveling west towards the department’s Liberty Street headquarters when he failed to negotiate a 15-degree left turn, causing him to leave the travel lane and crash into two homes at approximately 6:46 a.m. on March 3.
Clifford, the nephew of police Chief Eric Clifford, was traveling 30.3 mph when he crossed the intersection of Jackson Place onto the sidewalk, where he eventually crashed into 751 Eastern Ave., approximately 32 feet from the intersection. The vehicle then hit the second home at 747 Eastern Ave. before hitting the home’s steps and coming to a stop, according to the report.
The April 8 report was completed by officers Mark Weekes and Gary Relation, and was reviewed by Assistant Chief Brian Whipple.
Intoxication was ruled out as a factor after a drug and alcohol test conducted by a third party came back negative.
Clifford, who was hired by the department a year ago, told investigators that “he felt the rear-end of his patrol vehicle slip” as he approached Jackson Place but did not “recall losing control of the vehicle or going off the travel lane.”
“He does recall the impact of the vehicle with the curb and then impact with the structures,” the report reads.
Clifford also told investigators that he recalled “the weather being wet that morning and the roadway had been slippery.”
No temperature or road conditions were recorded on the scene, according to the report, but city environmental monitoring devices in the area found that air temperature was 39 degrees at the time and road temperature was 27 degrees.
“Review of body camera footage and scene photos depict the roadway was glazed,” the report reads.
The report was pieced together using 72 photographs and information downloaded from the vehicle’s airbag control module. Video footage from Schenectady County and city cameras were reviewed, but the crash was not captured on surveillance or by witnesses, the report said.
A canvas of the neighborhood was conducted for private surveillance footage, but came back empty. Clifford was wearing a body camera at the time of the crash, but the camera was not activated until after the crash. Footage captured in the aftermath was also used to piece together the report.
Impact from the crash was not enough to activate the vehicle’s dash-camera footage.
No visible skid marks were found at the scene. Tire tracks captured in the snow found that the vehicle was operated in a straight path until it made impact with the first house, according to the report.
“Airbag control module data indicate in the five seconds prior to impact, there was no application of brakes, no steering inputs, and a minor increase in accelerator application,” the report reads.
The report was made public more than a month after it was completed on April 8, despite assurances from the department it would be made public after it was completed back in March.
Sgt. Matthew Dearing, a police spokesman, did not answer a question as to why the report was not released sooner.
It’s also unclear if Clifford will face any disciplinary actions.
Dearing said the department’s Office for Professional Standards is still investigating the incident and will make a recommendation once the investigation is complete.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.