The Albany Police Department released body camera footage on Wednesday from an incident that lead to an arrest of one of their officers and the suspension of two others.
Three defendants were also arrested and charged with Resisting Arrest and Obstruction of Governmental Administration. But after viewing the body cam footage, the Albany County District Attorney’s Office said there was not sufficient evidence and prosecution would be an injustice to those men, so the charges were dropped.
Court documents state that around 4 a.m. on March 16, officers from the Albany Police Department were dispatched to 523 First St. for a noise complaint. After several requests to open the door, Officer Seeber kicked it in.
An attorney for one of the men said he’s still unsure why police kicked in the door.
“I have no doubt that they were probably playing music too loud or something like that and the police had been there before, but that’s not a reason to kick down someone’s door and assault three people,” defense attorney Mike Feit said.
That’s when officers physically removed 42-year-old Lee Childs from his home, sprayed him with mace, and directed everyone else to get out.
It was at that moment Taija Lewis said she took out her cell phone and started recording. She sent the video to the police department, which sparked the entire investigation.
“Hopefully moving forward, the police officers know better next time around, if they do keep their jobs, whatever the situation is, I just hope that other police officers know that this is not okay, and the community is not going to stand for it anymore,” she said.
Moments later, according to the police report, 26-year-old Mario Luis-Gorostiza encouraged others to fight with responding officers. He, too, was taken to the ground. Bystanders could be heard pleading with officers.
“They don’t need to kick him. Just cuff him.”
That’s when 27-year-old Armando Sanchez exited the residence. In the police report, officers claimed he was causing a disturbance. But the video shows Officer Luke Deer coming out of nowhere, running toward Sanchez, shoving him to the ground, and proceeding to punch him in the head and face. He then took out his baton and hit Sanchez on the head with the end of it.
After getting Sanchez handcuffed, Officer Deer then ran after someone else with pepper spray, and that’s when a fellow officer told Deer to relax.
The day the department received the cell phone video, Officer Deer was suspended immediately. He is now facing felony Assault charges. Two other officers were suspended without pay.
The investigation is ongoing. Between 10 to 12 officers responded that night so more administrative sanctions are possible.