A city teen arrested in last June’s downtown theater attack was identified immediately by two victims, according to testimony at a pretrial hearing Tuesday.
City police Officer Eric Owens, who testified Tuesday morning in Schenectady County Court, and his partner were the first officers on the scene at Bow Tie Cinemas for a report of a large fight.
When they arrived, they encountered a man and his two daughters. The daughters were crying and the father appeared to have a bruised and swollen eye. One of the daughters had a cut lip.
A description of the suspects went out to other officers, who soon found 16-year-old Dashawn Harrison of Duane Avenue.
Police then conducted what is called a “show up,” where shortly after the crime officers show the victims a person to see if they recognize him.
In this case, officers brought Harrison back to the theater.
“The second he was pulled out of the car, the father immediately stated to us ‘That’s him,’ ” Owens testified.
Owens testified Tuesday at the conclusion of a pretrial hearing for Harrison.
Harrison is one of four teens facing charges in adult court in the June 29 attack at the cinema. Harrison, along with Roeson Cobb, 16, of Germania Avenue; Terrell Bell, 16, of Duane Avenue; and Jonas Jeannot, 18, of Niskayuna, all face felony assault counts that could carry lengthy prison sentences.
The attack took place at the conclusion of a late showing of “White House Down,” during which the teenagers had been disrupting the show, prosecutors have said.
The teens eventually turned their attention to the father with his daughters, prosecutors said. They allegedly assaulted him in the theater before they left. One of the man’s daughters also was hit and knocked to the floor as she tried to come to her father’s aid, prosecutors said, and her phone was stolen.
Owens testified that the father became instantly agitated at the sight of Harrison, trying to walk toward the teen. Officers prevented him from getting close. Nearly simultaneous to the father becoming agitated, one of his daughters spotted Harrison. She shouted to her father that the teen was the one who stole her cellphone.
Owens had moved the daughters about 10 feet away to calm them down and better get their story.
At issue in the hearing was whether those identifications could be used in court. Harrison’s attorney Lauren Mack argued at the conclusion of the hearing that neither identification should be allowed. She argued that the setup was unduly suggestive.
If the father’s identification of the suspect is allowed, the daughter’s shouldn’t be, she argued, because she could have been influenced by witnessing her father’s identification of the suspect.
Prosecutor John Healy argued that both were proper. He said officers could not have anticipated the father’s reaction.
The prosecutor also argued that separating the father from his daughters further was not possible, given the situation and what they were telling officers had just happened.
Judicial Hearing Officer Michael C. Eidens is to decide whether the identifications will be allowed. A decision is expected in the coming weeks.
Any trial is expected to be this spring or summer. Expected to be central to the felony charges is whether the father’s injuries rise to the level of “serious physical injury.”
Prosecutors say it does rise to that level, centering on a concussion suffered by the victim. He also suffered broken bones in a hand, tooth damage and torn-up skin on his knees, prosecutors said.