SCHENECTADY -- A Glenville police officer who was accidentally shot by a police officer from another department during a July incident involving a knife-wielding man has filed a lawsuit.
Glenville officer Benjamin P. Ferretti alleges in the lawsuit that Scotia officer Danielle Peck discharged her weapon in the July 28 incident after her sergeant told her not to fire, as other officers, including Ferretti, were in danger of being hit.
Peck was told by her sergeant "specifically not to discharge her weapon given they were in a crossfire position," the suit states. Despite that directive, Peck "negligently discharged her weapon" as two officers opposite the suspect and ahead of Ferretti also fired, the suit states.
Ferretti did not fire his weapon during the incident, in which the knife-wielding man, 32-year-old Brian Skinner, was killed. Ferretti was struck in the abdomen.
He spent several days in the hospital and returned to full duty in November, but he continues to suffer pain as a result, according to his attorney, Thomas Mortati.
"She never should have discharged her weapon under any scenario," Mortati said. "She put all those officers at risk."
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Schenectady, names both the village of Scotia and its police department as defendants. Peck is not specifically named as a defendant. Ferretti alone is named as the plaintiff. The suit makes various negligence claims against Scotia, including failure to properly train and supervise officers.
Both Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg and Police Chief Peter Frisoni said separately Wednesday that they hadn't yet seen the suit. However, they said they don't comment on pending litigation. Peck remains an officer on the force, they said. Glenville Police Chief Stephen Janik said he couldn't comment on Ferretti's lawsuit, but noted his department makes no allegations against Scotia.
Regarding the incident itself, Glenville police asked the state police to investigate. At a press conference about a month after the shooting, state police said Skinner rushed at officers with a knife, intending for police to kill him. State police determined the use of force was appropriate. State police also uncovered evidence of at least three prior suicide attempts by Skinner, who was a teacher for the Shenendehowa Central School District.
The state police have completed their overall investigation and recently turned over their file to the Schenectady County District Attorney's Office, District Attorney Robert Carney said Tuesday. State police Maj. Robert Patnaude confirmed Wednesday his investigators had concluded their work and turned over their findings to Carney. He said they found no criminality, but declined to discuss their findings in more detail.
Carney said this week he has yet to review the file. When he does, he said his office could issue a report on the incident, as it did in response to a 2016 police shooting in Rotterdam. Asked about Ferretti's allegations, Carney said they would be a departmental or civil issue, not a criminal matter.
Skinner was hit six times, Ferretti once, police said in August. Peck, along with Glenville Sgt. Matthew Weise and Scotia Officer Mark Kopczynski fired their weapons during the incident.
State police said in August that tests were underway to determine who fired the bullet that hit Ferretti.
In addition to naming Peck as the officer whose bullet struck him, Ferretti's lawsuit also provides a more detailed account of the incident. Mortati said the account is based on Ferretti's observations and his understanding of the investigation.
According to Ferretti's suit, Ferretti provided backup to Weise and Kopczynski as they approached Skinner's 10 Pashley Road residence.
Shortly after they arrived, Skinner came out of the home armed with a knife and approached Weise and Kopczynski.
Given that Weise and Kopczynski were in front of him, Ferretti kept his rifle "on safe and held it in the low ready position." Skinner continued to approach, and Weise and Kopczynski opened fire, the suit states.
On the other side of the yard, Peck and Scotia Sgt. Adam Halpfinger took up a position near a fence to the east of the residence, to the "left front" of Weise, Kopczynski and Ferretti.
The suit does not address whether either Halpfinger or Peck made efforts to move from their positions to avoid being in other officers' line of fire. Of all the officers on scene, only Ferretti was hit.
Peck joined the Scotia force less than a year prior to the shooting, records show. Scotia Village Board records indicate she was sworn in and given her badge on Feb. 8, 2017. It was unclear if she had prior law enforcement experience. Ferretti had been on the Glenville force less than two years before the incident.
He was injured despite wearing a bullet-proof vest, Mortati said. The vest, however, likely saved Ferretti's life, the attorney said.
"He would have died had it not clipped the vest," Mortati said.
Though Ferretti has returned to full duty, Mortati said his future as a police officer remains uncertain. Ferretti continues to have numbness and pain in his leg due to a nerve injury.