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DA explains her part in police investigation of off-duty officer

To the editor:

In response to an article published July 28 by the (Albany) Times Union (and reprinted in the Enterprise July 29), regarding an investigation of an incident that occurred within Essex County at Lincoln Pond in Elizabethtown, titled “Off-duty Cohoes cop allegedly fired shots after confronting youths,” I find it necessary to respond to inquiries posed as a result of this publication.

On June 10, myself and my first assistant district attorney met with two members of the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation regarding an incident that had occurred on June 6. While I cannot comment on specific facts of the investigation (as it is closed without an arrest), the officers orally recited the basis for the investigation and the steps taken thus far. Since it was early on in the process, my office made suggestions to the officers as to what they could do that may help gather the relevant and necessary information needed to substantiate any potential charges. Generally speaking, this suggestion is the same suggestion given in any case, which is to interview potential witnesses, ascertain their information, have them sign a sworn statement and confirm that they would be willing to testify at any future hearings or trials if needed. The officers agreed and, I assumed, went to follow up and continue the investigation. A short while later, I believe via a phone call, I was informed that the suggestion we made was completed, that the witnesses had no direct knowledge of a weapon and did not want to come back to testify. This was the last conversation that I personally had with the State Police about the investigation. I presumed that the investigation was ongoing and a follow up would be made in the near future.

On July 27, I received a phone call from the State Police informing me that the Times Union may be publishing a story on this matter and wanted to give me a notice of such, and I was informed that the investigation had already been closed without arrest. A final draft of the police report was never forwarded to my office and was never reviewed by any member of my office. To date, I have never read or seen this final New York State Police report.

At this time, I am unable to comment on the facts of the investigation as I have not read the final report or final statements secured. No arrest was made, and the investigation was closed by decision of the State Police. Therefore, all inquiries regarding this case should go to the public information officer of the New York State Police.

Kristy L. Sprague

District attorney, Essex County

Elizabethtown

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