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Probe reopened in off-duty cop’s 911 call about Black youths

ALBANY (AP) — State police have reopened an investigation into a white police officer suspected of making up a story about getting into a gunfight with a group of Black youths, officials said.

The Cohoes police officer, Sean McKown, is under scrutiny for an incident June 6, when he was off duty at his weekend home in the Adirondack Mountains.

State Police responded to the camp in Elizabethtown after McKown called 911 and said he’d been confronted by a group of eight to 10 Black males, and then exchanged gunshots with one of them before both sides retreated.

But the Times Union, citing anonymous sources, reported earlier this year that when troopers arrived, McKown was asleep and “highly intoxicated.” McKown later called police and acknowledged the story about being shot at was a lie, the newspaper reported. This time, he said he fired shots into a tree stump out of fear.

McKown’s police department north of Albany allowed him to retire rather than face potential disciplinary measures that could cost him his pension, but state police initially closed their investigation without filing charges.

That led to criticism from activists and community leaders, who sent a petition with more than 700 signatures to Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague demanding a more thorough investigation.

Sprague said in an email Wednesday that she wrote state police Aug. 10 asking for “additional investigative steps.”

State Police recently met with Sprague and “there was agreement on conducting additional investigative steps in this case, which are underway,” agency spokesman William Duffy said in an email Wednesday.

Duffy and Sprague said they could not provide more details on the development, which was first reported by the Times-Union.

“While encouraging, this is still a preliminary step,” Matthew Melewski, an attorney representing signers of the petition seeking further investigation, said via email Wednesday. “Officer McKown has already admitted to endangering the lives of black youths by falsely reporting an exchange of gunfire and recklessly firing his own service weapon. We expect this to be followed by an indictment and prosecution.”

A message seeking comment was left at a cellphone number believed to be McKown’s.

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