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City police detective resigns; assault case concludes

City police detective resigns; assault case concludes

Lawsuit seeks $2M in damages related to bar fight
City police detective resigns; assault case concludes
Police filed the 2016 assault charge after an incident at McCabe's Rotterdam home that required a significant police response.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

SCHENECTADY — An off-duty city police detective who was accused last summer of assaulting a man inside a downtown bar has resigned from the force, according to city police and his attorney.

Joseph McCabe, a city police officer since 2000, resigned in May, two months after he pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment, a violation, officials said.

The bar fight has also now spawned a lawsuit against McCabe by the man he was accused of assaulting, records show. Patrick Powers, of Schenectady, is suing both McCabe and the owners of the bar, The Grog Shoppe, seeking damages. The bar has since closed.

McCabe was accused of assaulting Powers the evening of June 30, 2016, inside the Erie Boulevard establishment, punching the man in the chest and striking him in the face with a broken pint glass. The incident left the man with a cut to his forehead, according to a police report on the incident. 

McCabe then allegedly straddled Powers while he was on the ground, grabbed his shirt and slammed him to the ground six or seven times, the complaint states.

McCabe's attorney, Andrew Safranko, said previously that his client acted in self-defense. Contacted about the resolution, Safranko said the defense was confident McCabe wouldn't have been convicted at trial, but the non-criminal harassment plea ended the case without the uncertainty of trials.

"Any actions that Mr. McCabe took at that bar, we believed, were justified and in self-defense," Safranko said.

Powers alleges in his lawsuit that McCabe approached Powers "without reason or provocation" and assaulted him.

The Albany County District Attorney's Office handled the prosecution. McCabe also admitted to a related traffic infraction for failing to obey a traffic device, records show. He paid surcharges related to that charge.

Safranko said McCabe's resignation was not a requirement of his March plea. He would not comment on exactly what led to McCabe's resignation but said the department made "no factual findings against him regarding any incident."

The resignation leaves open possible future employment as a police officer, Safranko said.

"It was in his best interest at the time to resign from the department and maintain the potential to go back and become a police officer," Safranko said.

Police filed the 2016 assault charge after an incident at McCabe's Rotterdam home that required a significant police response. The incident was described then as an internal affairs matter.

When police arrived at the home, McCabe made irrational statements and barricaded himself inside, Rotterdam police said at the time. He made no threats and, after about an hour, he willingly left the house and was taken into custody, according to police.

No charges were filed related to that incident.

City police officials only confirmed McCabe's resignation this week, refusing to comment further.

Regarding the lawsuit, Powers is claiming assault and battery, as well as emotional distress against McCabe. Powers is also suing John Matarazzo, owner of the Grog Shoppe, alleging the bar is responsible for serving McCabe and for failing to protect its customers.

Powers' attorney, Paul Callahan, would not comment, and Matarazzo did not return a call for comment.

Safranko said McCabe had yet to be served with the lawsuit, but he repeated McCabe's self-defense claim and contended Powers suffered no injuries.

Powers is seeking $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

McCabe had served as a detective in recent years on some high-profile cases. He served as lead detective in the murder and rape case of Herman Robinson, who is serving 100 years to life in prison for killing an infant and for the repeated rape of a child.

McCabe's wife, Diane McCabe, died in September 2007, due to complications following a cesarean section at Albany Medical Center. McCabe sued the hospital, alleging doctors did not follow a key 2004 state health advisory. That lawsuit resulted in a $5.2 million malpractice settlement in 2010.

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