The fiancee of suspended city police officer Eric Peters told a jury Thursday that she and Peters had a heated argument St. Patrick’s night 2011, but the argument never became physical.
Bonnie Crandall testified the argument erupted as they neared their apartment on Park Place after an evening out with friends.
Peters, standing trial on misdemeanor attempted assault and unlawful imprisonment charges, wanted her to go to the hospital after her nose had been bloodied in a dancing accident earlier in the evening. Her nose was still hurting by the time they got home and bleeding some, but she didn’t want to go to the hospital.
The spark for the screaming and yelling, though, was a comment Peters made about her father, that because she was refusing to seek medical treatment she was being “bullheaded” like him.
The remark struck a nerve, she testified, “because my father means the world to me.”
Crandall described in detail an argument that devolved into full-on insults about each other’s families and swearing, all loudly and publicly.
But the core of the prosecution’s case — allegations that Peters punched her and pulled her back into the truck against her will — never happened, she said.
“If he laid a finger on me, he’d be picking out his teeth,” Crandall said in response to questioning by Peters’ attorney, Kevin Luibrand.
Her testimony underscored the difficulty the prosecution faces in proving a case where the victim says she’s not a victim. Prosecutors, though, have been trying to do just that, through the testimony of a Union Graduate College student and another woman who each testified Wednesday to plainly seeing Peters repeatedly punching Crandall in the face inside her truck, then pulling her back into the truck when she tried to get out.
On Thursday, closing out the prosecution’s case, was testimony from another graduate student, James Walker, who said he witnessed the end of the argument, saying Crandall yelled that Peters was beating her. Shortly afterward, Walker testified that he heard Peters say to someone else, “What are you looking at?” and “Mind your own business.”
In her own testimony, Crandall recounted similar quotes from Peters, saying they were in response to someone “puffing up,” looking as if they were going to intervene in the argument. But Crandall flatly denied ever saying that Peters was beating her.
Regarding Crandall’s testimony, and her account of the hours leading up to and after the argument, prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham focused on the details, including the nature of Crandall’s relationship with Peters. The two have been dating since 2009 and have a “great relationship,” Crandall testified. Asked by Tremante-Pelham if they fought a lot, she said they didn’t.
Tremante-Pelham also gave an alternate explanation for the fight, one she said Crandall’s boss gave investigators. The boss, according to Tremante-Pelham, told investigators that Crandall had confided in her that Peters was possessive of her, and the argument was really about his contention that Crandall had been dancing in a flirtatious manner.
The boss has not testified at the trial herself. Nonetheless, Crandall denied saying anything like that to her boss, and said the statement itself was also not true.
Then there was the nose injury that she claimed sparked the argument. She suffered it dancing at a bar in Troy when another dancer accidentally hit her. Two others she was with testified to the accident.
Her nose bled, requiring two shirts, including Peters’, to stop the bleeding. An estimated 12-inch pool of blood was on the floor, but she didn’t seek medical attention.
After that, Peters, Crandall and one of her co-workers had wings and fries at the City Squire in Schenectady. It was only after that, as the couple returned to Park Place, that the argument erupted over her not going to the hospital.
Crandall said she angrily left in her truck shortly after the argument, leaving Peters there. She drove off, stopped in a parking lot to find her apartment keys, then returned home.
Tremante-Pelham questioned why she would be looking for her keys if she had every reason to believe Peters was still home. Crandall responded a downstairs door needed to be unlocked.
Also, Crandall said, the argument, as heated and insult-filled as it was, was over by morning. She said she even lied to her boss about going to the hospital for her nose injury so she could spend more time with Peters. The argument wasn’t a topic of conversation, she testified.
“I think we were both embarrassed about what we did and said things we didn’t mean,” Crandall said.
Peters was suspended after his March arrest and remains suspended with pay. An internal disciplinary hearing is expected to continue next week, Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said.
Peters is a decorated officer who has been injured on the job. His work saving a man and his daughter from a burning Yale Street home in 2003 earned him an exceptional duty award at a 2005 ceremony.
Members of Peters’ family have sat in the gallery throughout the trial, including his father, who retired from the force in 2002 as a sergeant.
Peters’ case is being heard before City Court Judge Mark Blanchfield.