Schenectady police officer Mark Weekes is excited to be back on the job after he was assaulted and seriously injured in August.
Weekes returned to the Schenectady Police Department on Tuesday and said he is fully recovered from a skull fracture and swelling to the head after he was attacked while patrolling the area of Broadway and State Street over the summer.
“I’m excited to be back with all of my friends,” Weekes said during an interview Wednesday afternoon at the Schenectady police headquarters. “I had amazing moral support. I got so many cards and people calling. All the police officers were saying that people were asking about me. I really appreciate that.”
James Hilton, 32, was charged with assaulting Weekes and was later indicted by a grand jury. Hilton is still in custody. Weekes could not comment on the incident specifically due to an open investigation.
According to the police report, Weekes observed two people walking south on Broadway near State Street around 2:22 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1. One person, later identified as Hilton, appeared to be intoxicated and was dancing in the street with a traffic cone.
Weekes told Hilton to return the cone and walk on the sidewalk. But a few minutes later, Weekes observed Hilton walking west on State Street, still with the cone. Weekes then attempted to place Hilton into custody.
Hilton responded by throwing Weekes over his shoulder and then repeatedly punching him until he lost consciousness, police said. Another officer was dispatched to provide backup, but the officer was coming from another location in the city.
“I had a fractured skull, a temporal fracture,” Weekes said. “I had a minor brain bleed. I had a concussion as well as a broken finger.”
He added, laughing, “Is there a such thing as a minor brain bleed?”
Weekes, a Schenectady native, was treated at Ellis Hospital and later recovered from his injuries at home in Schenectady.
“I was out of work for three and a half months,” he said. “I was at home for the first half and the second half I had surgery on my finger, which was still broken. They had to operate to fix it. That’s pretty much why I was out the second half.”
On his first day back at work Tuesday, he rode shotgun with another officer that night. On Wednesday he resumed his regular shift, riding alone from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Weekes works in traffic enforcement, whose officers typically ride alone. Weekes said he believes it’s not efficient to have every police vehicle occupied by two officers.
“For safety you should always have two officers to a car, or three or four officers,” he said. “But you also have to remember the more people you put in a car, the less officers you have covering the city.”
Weekes has served as a Schenectady police officer for seven years. He became an officer after being in the Air Force for four years, stationed in South Carolina and Las Vegas.
“I came out of the military and joined the police force because it’s similar duties,” he said.
Weekes also serves part time with the National Guard, working with MQ-9 Reapers, which are remotely piloted aircraft. Weekes works three or four days a month with the National Guard.
Weekes said he didn’t sustain any long-term disabilities from his injuries but does replay the incident in his head and considers what he could have done differently, what he could do next time and what advice he could give other officers.
When asked if he believes he did everything he could to defend himself during the incident Weekes responded, “I was happy with the way I handled the situation.”
Weekes said he plans to stay with the Schenectady Police Department for the long term.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I like it here and I like the people I work with.”
In addition to returning to work as a Schenectady police officer, Weekes is looking to expand his taxi service called Fare.
People can download the Fare app and order a taxi or black car service, much like transportation company Uber.
Weekes said he is officially launching the Fare app this week so people can request one of Fare’s four cars directly from their smartphone. The app will provide a quote for people’s destination and the option to pay ahead of time through the app.
“When things stabilize I hope to put some more time and marketing into it,” he said. “Everything has been put on hold until now."