CARS HOMES JOBS

Spa police: Records back account of man’s fall from scaffolding

Family of man who died still unconvinced

Saturday, June 21, 2014
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— Saratoga Springs police insist they watched Daryl Mount Jr. assault his girlfriend on Caroline Street, chased him down an ally off Broadway and then tried to subdue him with a Taser before he disappeared onto an unstable scaffolding in the dark of night last Aug. 31.

One officer scaled the scaffolding unaware of Mount’s location to ask witnesses if they had seen the direction he had run, according to investigators. Several others met up with the gravely injured man two stories below, handcuffing him for a moment until they realized how badly he was hurt.

“During the investigation, 25 witnesses who saw at least some part of the incident or lived in the area were interviewed by police,” Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen read from a statement in the City Council chambers Friday. “It is important to note that no witnesses contradicted any part of the account of the officers on the scene or reported observing any abuse by officers.”

City officials and police released a trove of documents in the case, including 72 pages of incident reports, video taken from various surveillance cameras around Caroline Street, Taser records, radio transmissions by the officers pursuing Mount and a pair of still images taken from the footage immediately before the pursuit began. The effort comes after the investigation into the case was deemed closed in the weeks following Mount’s death on May 15.

Mount’s family remains unconvinced of the narrative that led to his crippling injuries that left him severely disabled and ultimately contributed to his death last month. If anything, Mathiesen’s statement alongside city Police Chief Greg Vietch seemed to only fuel their frustration over the internal probe of the incident.

“Give me the truth,” shouted Miranda Mount, the deceased 22-year-old man’s older sister, a tattoo of her brother’s name visible on her left arm. “You can’t give it, because you don’t [expletive] know.”

The heated comments were among several the sister directed at city officials as they tried to put to rest notions that something nefarious happened between Mount’s flight from police and when he was found in the ally behind Gaffney’s restaurant. Family members continue to contend Mount’s injuries resulted from contact other than the fall — an allegation his mother said is backed by comments made to her by Mount’s physicians while he was being treated at the Albany Medical Center last year.

Patty Jackson said the case is rife with inconsistencies. She said the police shifted their narrative about what happened to her son, from first suggesting he tripped to finally saying they never saw him after he climbed onto the scaffolding.

“There’s been inconsistencies from the very beginning,” she said. “But they stated that they felt there was no need for further investigation.”

Incident reports released by police indicate police had contact with Mount earlier in the evening, when a woman accused him of slapping another woman near Club 13, a bar on Caroline Street. Mount was found walking on Broadway near Caroline Street a short time later and denied the incident.

“The last thing I heard Mount say as I was walking away was ‘I just wanna go home and get the [expletive] out of here,’ ” Officer Frederick Warfield said in an incident report. “I then observed Mount still on Caroline Street multiple times in the following hour.”

Audio released by the police also indicates they knew his identity as they chased him down Broadway.

The incident report indicates police were prepared to arrest Mount on charges of third-degree attempted assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrested on the morning of the incident. The incident report also indicates officers believed Mount to be impaired at the time and that he either pushed or slammed the body of the woman, who he is identified as dating.

Cameras recorded what transpired between Mount and his girlfriend before the pursuit, but city officials declined to release any of the footage aside from two still images in which the woman is blocked out. Mathiesen said releasing the footage could deter other victims of domestic violence from coming forward to authorities.

“The privacy and dignity of victims of crime trumps any criticism the Police Department may face for the decision to do what we believe is the right thing for the victim,” he said.

But Mount’s family insists the woman was never assaulted and that the couple were merely arguing when approached by police. The woman, who wasn’t named by the family or police, gave a verbal statement to investigators on the night of the attack, but was otherwise uncooperative, according to the narrative released Friday.

City officials could still face a civil lawsuit from Mount’s family. They filed a notice of claim against the city in November and have about five months to follow through with a lawsuit.

Robert Katzman, the lawyer representing the family, said Friday’s news conference merely reiterates the inconsistencies in the official account. He said the police version of events seems to change regularly.

“That’s why everybody is up in arms,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get the real facts when you’re dealing with an organization that’s trying to cover things up.”

The incident has also prompted the New York Civil Liberties Union to call for the city to establish a civilian review board. Melanie Trimble, director of the Capital Region chapter of the NYCLU, said a review board would help ensure that police are conducting thorough investigations when allegations of abuse arise.

“It develops trust between the police department and the citizenry so that the police can focus on solving crimes in a cooperative community,” she said.

Mathiesen said he’s receptive to exploring the idea, but isn’t convinced the city needs a police review board.

He said the city’s unique commissioner-form of government gives a degree of civilian oversight already.

“But it’s something we need to look into,” he said.

 
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