HALFMOON -- An Albany man who was charged in 2017 with inciting a riot as police broke up a large party has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Saratoga County and Sheriff Michael Zurlo, claiming he was falsely arrested.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Albany by Richard A. Peterkin. In addition to the county and Zurlo, it names Deputy Anthony Pirrone as a defendant.
"There was absolutely no evidence to support this false charge against Mr. Peterkin," the lawsuits states.
The legal action stems from a March 5, 2017, incident at Spare Time Bowling on Route 9 in Halfmoon, in which several police agencies responded to complaints about a large party involving hundreds of people. Peterkin was a disc jockey at the party, according to the lawsuit.
In a press release issued at the time, the Sheriff's Department said the crowd included more than 800 people, and that Peterkin, along with two other Albany men not involved in the lawsuit, urged people "to disregard officers' instructions to disperse and urged them to continue engaging in violent behavior." Most of the people at the party were African-American or Latino, states the lawsuit.
Inciting to riot is a misdemeanor. The charge was filed two days after the party and was dismissed in Halfmoon Town Court in October 2017.
"Dismissal of the charge was due to the fact that there was absolutely no evidence that Mr. Peterkin had committed the charged offense or any other offense," the lawsuit states. It claims Peterkin was made "the scapegoat" because authorities wanted to shut the party down, and "racial animus" was one of the reasons. Peterkin is African-American.
The lawsuit, filed on Peterkin's behalf by attorney Mark S. MIschler of Albany, alleges that if Zurlo had properly trained his deputies the arrest would not have been made.
Zurlo said he could not comment on the case because of the litigation. Saratoga County Attorney Stephen Dorsey could not be reached for comment.
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