A suspended Albany police officer has been found guilty of harassment and criminal mischief stemming from a 2010 incident at a Halfmoon apartment.
Robert Schunk II, 40, who was an Albany police officer for a dozen years before being suspended without pay two years ago, allegedly kicked in the bathroom door of his girlfriend’s apartment on Lookout Lane in the town of Halfmoon. The victim had locked the bathroom door to escape the pursuing Schunk.
A four-day jury trial was held before Halfmoon Town Justice Lester Wormuth this week. The jury deliberated late into Thursday evening before returning a guilty verdict just before midnight.
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III is recommending that Schunk, who will be sentenced in May, spend a year in jail.
“He has an extraordinary history,” Murphy said about Schunk. He said the victim, Schunk’s former girlfriend, “was brave to come forward [and testify against him]. I’m glad she did.”
Schunk was acquitted on felony and misdemeanor assault charges following a jury trial in February 2011 in Albany County Court. In that case, he was accused of pushing his former girlfriend, Barbara Waters, now 38, down a flight of stairs in January 2009, pressing a loaded pistol to her head and making her beg for her life. But jurors determined that the prosecution didn’t meet the threshold of evidence to convict him on either second-degree or third-degree assault.
The Halfmoon convictions stem from an incident that happened at the victim’s residence at 409 Lookout Lane early on April 3, 2010.
Schunk arrived at the apartment and began an argument with the victim. During the course of the argument, police said, he grabbed her violently around the waist and held her arm forcibly to such an extent that it caused pain, bruising and injury when she was forced against the wall by him.
The woman was able to escape, run to the bathroom, close the door behind her and seek refuge by locking herself inside.
“Officer Schunk proceeded to violently and repeatedly kick down the bathroom door, shattering it and the door frame and entered the bathroom pouncing on the victim,” says a statement from the DA’s office. The woman was able to escape to safety.
The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department charged Schunk with misdemeanor criminal mischief for destroying the door and door frame and harassment for the attack against her just prior to her seeking refuge in the bathroom.
“We were able to show the jury that this man had been threatening this woman before on two specific occasions that were never charged, June 2009 and January 2010,” Murphy said.
“She is lucky she got away or she may not have been here to testify,” Murphy said in a statement Friday. He did not identify the victim, but she has been previously identified as Waters.
“I will be speaking to Albany Chief of Police Steven Krokoff to advise that we will be requesting a year in jail at the time of sentencing,” Murphy said. It is likely the judge will be issuing an order of protection at the time of sentencing, as well, Murphy said.
Schunk, who remains free on bail, will not be permitted under federal law to carry a weapon at any time, even during the course of his duties, if he were to remain a police officer.
James Miller, a spokesman for the Albany Police Department, said he could not discuss Schunk’s situation because it remains part of an internal investigation. He did say that the officer has been suspended without pay for two years.