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Settlement reached in Schenectady excessive force lawsuit

Settlement reached in Schenectady excessive force lawsuit

The lawsuit was filed last September
Settlement reached in Schenectady excessive force lawsuit
Mark McCracken leaves court in January with his girlfriend.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY -- A settlement has been reached in an excessive force lawsuit filed by a woman against the city and police officer Mark McCracken, according to court documents.

The settlement won't be considered final until it is approved by City Council during its meeting on Oct. 9, according to the court filing.

Independent City Councilman Vince Riggi, chairman of the city’s Claims Committee, said he was unaware of the settlement as of Tuesday afternoon, and the committee's next meeting is on Oct. 1. The settlement would have to be approved by the Claims Committee before being voted on by the full council.

McCracken declined to comment, instead referring questions on the proposed settlement to city Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico.

Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon, spokesman for the police department, also referred questions on the proposed settlement to Falotico.

Falotico did not return a request for comment on the proposed settlement.

The police department’s professional standards unit found in March that McCracken used excessive force against Nicola Cottone while she was handcuffed, causing a large head wound.

The report was included in a court filing as part of a lawsuit Cottone brought against the city in September of 2017. Cottone alleged various violations of her rights, along with assault and battery.

Kevin Luibrand, Cottone’s attorney, declined to comment on the proposed settlement.

"It's premature to say anything at this point," Luibrand said.

This photo of the injury suffered by Nicola Cottone was included in the internal investigation report. (Provided)The internal investigation report said McCracken took a photo of Cottone's injury and showed it to others, including Lt. James Sanders.

The report, written by recently retired Lt. Edward Barbagelata and provided to Police Chief Eric Clifford, did not detail what punishment was given to McCracken, though it was determined he used excessive force and violated department policy by taking the photo. (Photo: This provided photo of the injury suffered by Nicola Cottone was included in the internal investigation report.)

Gregg Johnson, the Clifton Park-based attorney representing the city in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

In his statement included in Barbagelata's report, Sanders wrote that McCracken showed him the photo of Cottone on the day of the incident and said, “This is what happens when someone hits one of my men.”

McCracken was also in legal trouble earlier this year, when he accepted an offer from the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office for an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of a criminal contempt charge related to an incident involving his wife.

McCracken was charged with second-degree criminal contempt in January for allegedly violating an order of custody and visitation held by his wife, Cassie Walker. She claimed McCracken came in “close physical proximity” to her during their son’s hockey game at a Union College Hockey rink on Jan. 7.

Walker and McCracken were in the process of getting divorced at the time.

McCracken had been placed on administrative leave following his arrest but was taken off of leave and demoted from lieutenant to patrol officer. The department would not say whether the demotion was related to McCracken’s legal issues.

The charge was scheduled to be dismissed on Sept. 26, as long as McCracken stayed out of trouble.

McCracken had at one point been in the running to become police chief but was passed over for the post, which is now held by Chief Eric Clifford.

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