UPDATE: Former Schenectady police officer found dead

Thursday, February 20, 2014
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Schenectady police Officer John Lewis
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Schenectady police Officer John Lewis

— Former Schenectady police officer John Lewis, whose long documented troubles led to his termination from the department in 2010, was found dead at his Oregon Avenue residence Wednesday night, police said.

Lewis was discovered unresponsive by his girlfriend at about 9 p.m. Wednesday, police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken said. The call to police came in at 9:02.

Lewis was treated on the scene and transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His cause of death was ruled to be from natural causes, McCracken said later Thursday. McCracken wasn’t more specific. The ruling was made after an autopsy Thursday afternoon. Lewis was 44.

Because his death was unattended, police remained at his residence until the ruling was made.

Lewis’ tumultuous time on the Schenectady force came to an end in April 2010 with his termination.

It finally concluded after a series of arrests that ranged from stalking and computer tampering to two drunken driving charges and a federal weapons case.

He was ultimately sentenced to a total of 18 months in custody, divided between federal and state time.

After Lewis was sentenced on charges of computer tampering and drunken driving in November 2010, his attorney, Michael Horan, said that bouts of depression, marital problems and alcohol abuse were behind his legal problems. Alcohol fueled many of the incidents Lewis was accused of, authorities said.

In response to his initial April 2008 harassment charge and subsequent arrests, the city moved to fire Lewis, but the proceedings and the criminal cases became protracted with a number of delays.

Those efforts came years after an initial attempt to fire Lewis in 1998 over allegations he used a racial slur during an off-duty incident. The city was ordered to rehire Lewis then when an arbitrator ruled the city was “unduly harsh” in terminating him.

Lewis completed his overall sentence in April 2011 and was placed on three years of federal supervision. The state of Lewis’ supervised release at the time of his death was not clear Thursday, but three years from the time of his release wouldn’t have elapsed until this April.

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