Investigators refuse to release details of probe into Northville man's death
JOHNSTOWN Authorities are keeping a tight lid on details gathered by investigators looking into the death of a Northville man run over by an off-duty state trooper in the early morning hours of May 22.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Department this week denied a request by The Daily Gazette under the state Freedom of Information Law for the investigation report that led police to charge Trooper Brian T. Beardsley, 32, with leaving the scene of a fatal accident without reporting, a felony, in the death of Chad Finch.
According to information provided by the sheriff’s department, Beardsley’s girlfriend, whose name has not been released, called 911 at 2:41 a.m. May 22.
The sheriff’s department in a news release described that call as reporting “a body on the side of the roadway.”
The same news release, issued the day after Finch’s death, said investigators called the phone number back “and it was determined that [Beardsley] was driving south on County Highway 110 and observed something in the roadway and turned around to check out what it was and found it to be the body of the victim, at which time the cellphone call was made.”
Police confiscated Beardsley’s black, 2008 Nissan pickup truck and determined the truck had struck Finch, who they said was lying in the road. An autopsy later revealed Finch died of injuries sustained when he was hit by the truck fatally.
The investigation report would reveal many details not yet reported — including approximately when investigators administered a blood-alcohol test.
Authorities said Beardsley was tested for alcohol, but his blood-alcohol content was below what’s considered impairment or intoxication.
With the information authorities have released, it’s unclear how long after the call to 911 that those tests were administered.
It’s also unclear from information released by the sheriff’s department whether Beardsley’s girlfriend lied to police by saying the pair saw a body on the side of the road and simply turned around to look at it before leaving Finch dead in the road.
Citing a “policy” in an email response, Undersheriff Kevin Lenahan this week denied the request for information and referred further requests — including an appeal provided for in the state law — to Hamilton County District Attorney James T. Curry.
Fulton County District Attorney Louise K. Sira recused herself from the case because Beardsley, in his capacity as a police officer, is a witness or arresting officer in several cases pending in Fulton County Court.
Robert Freeman, director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, which monitors the state’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings laws, said Wednesday it’s the responsibility of a Fulton County official — not somebody in another county — to address a Freedom of Information Law request.
Curry did not return calls Wednesday and Thursday, and a secretary in his office said Thursday he had no comment.