News from NYSTPBA President Tom Mungeer, June 17, 2022







NYSTPBA Newsletter NYSTPBA Newsletter News from NYSTPBA President Tom Mungeer Important Notice about NYSTPBA Scholarships The deadline for applying for a NYSTPBA Scholarship has been extended to close-of-business (4 p.m.) on Friday, June 24, 2022. Details about the scholarships including eligibility and the online application can be found by logging into the PBA website at www.nystpba.org clicking on the “NYSTPBA Scholarships for 2022” page. (Please note the scholarship information is not available through the PBA’s app – it is available only on the website.) The Signal 30 Fund is offering more than 100 scholarships this year and the scholarship will be disbursed in August 2022. If you have any questions, please email Ann Neeson at aneeson@nystpba.org. Les Misérables ACT 1 – The Crime Earlier in the week a video surfaced of an individual, later identified as 60-year-old William Ryan of the town of Newburgh, screaming out multiple racial slurs at a Newburgh pastor as he drove by him on Broadway in that city. Apparently, before the video started, Ryan also threatened the pastor with a knife. Oh yeah, Ryan can also be heard yelling, “I’m an off-duty Trooper,” as he drove away, his license plate clearly visible. To any of us on the job, after one cursory glance at the video you immediately discount the fact that this guy was ever one of us. Division jumped right on the case and the city of Newburgh PD quickly arrested this knucklehead for menacing as a hate crime in the second degree. Seemingly an open and shut case? Yes and no. ACT II – Don’t Use Us as Clickbait Material In the wild, wild world of social media, where any half-assed wannabe “journalist” can create a seemingly real news platform, enter the Hudson Valley Post, which posted the following headline to the related story on the incident: ‘Off-Duty’ New York State Police Trooper Screams Racist Slurs At Newburgh, NY Pastor. I immediately took umbrage to this attempt to use the NYSP as “clickbait” material and sent out the following release: The New York State Troopers PBA is denouncing the publication of a sensationalized article in a Hudson Valley news outlet and demanding a correction. The Hudson Valley Post is featuring a so-called article online with the headline of “‘Off-Duty Trooper’ Screams Racist Slurs at Pastor in Newburgh, NY.” The article itself contains official statements from the New York State Police, elected officials and the NAACP that the individual spewing racist comments is NOT – and has never been - a New York State Trooper, yet this news outlet continues to promote the article with an irresponsible and false headline. The NYSTPBA is demanding a correction. “To the Hudson Valley Post: how dare you use the good name of the New York State Police as clickbait material to try to increase your almost non-existent readership,” said NYSTPBA President Thomas H. Mungeer. “I’m amazed that this article confirms the individual spewing hateful rhetoric was not an off-duty Trooper, yet this so-called investigative journalism piece relies on this individual’s offensive claims to boost interest in this news outlet. I could claim that I’m Queen Elizabeth, but that doesn’t make it so.” ACT III - The Rebuttal Almost immediately after sending the press release, we received the following response from Robert Welber, Brand Manager at the Hudson Valley Post: The headline to this article was changed well before this statement. To clarify in the headline he is not a trooper. The original headline had quotes around 'Off-Duty Trooper' to also clarify the person in question said that. Quotes are used in headlines as a way to show it's not the publication saying the quote but it comes from someone in the article. The article stated 3 times the man is not a police officer, but he claimed to be. Hudson Valley Post has had a great relationship with Troopers from the Hudson Valley. One we hope to continue. I apologize for the misunderstanding. All the best, Bobby Welber ACT IV - Finis After all of the back and forth, the Hudson Valley Post proved that they are definitely not setting or following any of the journalistic standards of the Old Gray Lady of bygone days, as they changed the headline to the following: Liar ‘Off-Duty Trooper’ Arrested For Hate Crime in Newburgh, NY. Dear Bobby: Thank you for the grammar and punctuation lesson. Your reporting still sucks. Don’t hold your breath during the next round of Pulitzer Prize voting. All the best, Tom Under the Microscope A recent Syracuse Post Standard article investigated an officer-involved shooting last year and questioned the reasons why the law enforcement officers (including our member) failed to voluntarily speak to investigators from the Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigations. I gave the reporter my opinion and overall I believe I was quoted correctly. There was one statement in which I was a little more direct than what was printed - Thomas Mungeer, president of the state police union, can pinpoint the moment that his union stopped cooperating with the AG’s investigations of police killings….. At a bail hearing, the AG’s office asked [Trooper] Baldner to be jailed as a flight risk, and the judge agreed. (The judge later reversed course and allowed Balder out on bail.) At the time, Mungeer called James a liar and accused her of using the Baldner case to propel her brief campaign for governor. “That’s pretty much when our trust of AG took a severe right turn,” Mungeer told Syracuse.com. My actual statement was, “The turning point in the relationship was when I sat and witnessed the attorneys for the Attorney General’s Office lie to a county court judge that our Trooper was a flight risk.” The reporter and I also had a difference of opinion on the fact that the AG was investigating off-duty incidents involving Troopers in which they were not involved in any police-related activities. The reporter believed the AG should have that power even if it created a situation in which our Trooper’s rights may be violated. My response is simple - Troopers are not above the law, however, there shouldn’t be a two-tiered system that results in us being beneath it, either. The distrust and secrecy in NY that undercut accountability in cops’ killing of Judson Albahm Published: Jun. 15, 2022, 6:00 a.m. By Douglass Dowty | ddowty@syracuse.com Syracuse, NY – The four police officers who fired 50 shots at a Jamesville teen and killed him more than a year ago refused to cooperate with a state investigation into their actions. The shooters – two DeWitt officers, a state trooper and an Onondaga County sheriff’s deputy – ducked a state Attorney General’s Office criminal investigation of 17-year-old Judson Albahm’s death in March 2021. Albahm was seeking suicide-by-cop, waving an air gun that looked like a real gun, when he was hit 16 times by the officers: DeWitt police Investigators Matthew Menard and Lucas Byron; Trooper Corey Fike; and sheriff’s Sgt. Amy Bollinger. In May, state Attorney General Letitia James cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing based on other accounts. Her report criticized the three agencies for a lack of coordination in the hour before Albahm’s death. It questioned whether the first officers who opened fire knew he had mental health issues and a history of carrying an air gun. The officers’ decision to avoid questioning is a terrible look. Police complain when citizens won’t help officers. Here, the officers themselves are refusing to cooperate with law enforcement. A Syracuse.com review of what went wrong here shows the hard feelings that have grown among certain law enforcement toward the attorney general’s office. It also shows the problems that come from having the AG’s office look for both the criminal conduct of officers and structural lapses in policing that need change. In this case, the public is denied a thorough review of questions raised by the shooting. More than a dozen officers responded to a mental health call about Albahm that ended in a hail of gunfire. Did the shooters all know he was looking to get shot? Did they know Albahm’s mother had warned officers that he had an air gun? Was there a non-lethal way to end the police pursuit of the troubled teen? The four officers’ testimony was key to finding those answers because not one of them had a body camera. The three police departments also have refused to answer questions from Syracuse.com about their role in the teen’s death. Instead, it appears that Albahm’s family will have to get those answers in their lawsuit against the police departments. “It’s absolutely clear that they didn’t want to talk to the AG,” David Zukher, a Syracuse lawyer for Albahm’s family, said of the officers. “It must be part of some legal strategy.” He added: “As part of the civil action, I’ll be sending out deposition notices, and we’ll get to the bottom of what happened.” That none of the shooters spoke to James’ office diminished the accountability promised when the state AG’s office took over investigating deadly police encounters involving unarmed people in 2015. Statewide, those local probes had been criticized for allowing a local prosecutor to investigate the actions of police agencies, two entities that cooperate with each other on a daily basis. Back then, local law enforcement involved in fatal shootings routinely cooperated with grand jury probes led by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office. Longtime DA William Fitzpatrick said he’d never found reason to charge an officer in a deadly shooting. But he still required officers to give a sworn account in order to be publicly cleared, he said. The Albahm investigation reveals an impact of having an outside agency in charge of the probe. It also surfaces a growing distrust by troopers and other law enforcement of James’ office, which has pressed for police accountability in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The AG “requested interviews with all the discharging officers, and all refused to be interviewed,” notes the final report. Albahm’s death is one of only two police-involved death investigations by the AG closed in the past year in which on-duty officers declined to cooperate with the probe, based on a Syracuse.com review of published AG reports. In the other case, a state trooper is now facing a murder charge in an 11-year-old girl’s death. A growing distrust Thomas Mungeer, president of the state police union, can pinpoint the moment that his union stopped cooperating with the AG’s investigations of police killings. In October 2021, the AG charged Trooper Christopher Baldner with murder after a 2020 police chase in the Hudson Valley led to the death of an 11-year-old girl. Baldner rammed the fleeing vehicle at high speed, causing the vehicle to crash and flip over a guardrail. The troopers’ union, which represents Baldner, maintains the trooper was simply doing his job after the other driver recklessly fled a traffic stop. James’s office pursued a murder charge, with a grand jury voting to indict Baldner on accusations that he acted with depraved indifference to human life. At a bail hearing, the AG’s office asked Baldner to be jailed as a flight risk, and the judge agreed. (The judge later reversed course and allowed Balder out on bail.) At the time, Mungeer called James a liar and accused her of using the Baldner case to propel her brief campaign for governor. “That’s pretty much when our trust of AG took a severe right turn,” Mungeer told Syracuse.com. State police haven’t cooperated with her investigations into police-involved fatalities since that November 2021 bail hearing, Mungeer said. The union can’t tell troopers to not cooperate, but the union – which provides legal representation – is advising them not to. The state police union and the AG have also clashed recently over her power and policy. After a July 2021 car crash involving an off-duty trooper in a Syracuse suburb, the AG sent investigators to a hospital to probe whether the trooper was at fault for the other driver’s death, according to a lawsuit filed later by the troopers’ union. Troopers had investigated the crash involving one of their own, and had determined that the other driver had crossed the center line of Route 31 near Radisson and crashed into the vehicle driven by Trooper Paul Kuropatwinski. A state police news release about the crash at the time did not identify one of the drivers as an off-duty trooper. The troopers’ union was incensed that the AG had sent investigators to the hospital of the injured trooper. It sued James, asking an Albany County judge to limit the AG’s power to investigate such cases. A judge sided with the AG; the union is appealing. The AG later agreed there was no proof the trooper was responsible for the death and returned the probe to local authorities. There’s also James’ push in Albany to make it easier to charge police with crimes in fatal encounters with civilians. James says she should be able to criminally charge officers who needlessly escalate encounters with civilians, leading to their deaths. In a May 2021 news conference, she pointed to the deaths of Eric Garner, who died from a police chokehold on Staten Island in 2013, and Daniel Prude, who died after a physical restraint in Rochester in 2020. Her proposal would also require police to seek non-lethal options first, even in cases where someone is armed and suspected of a serious felony. Police unions have lambasted James’s proposal, saying that it will hamstring officers. Mungeer has said that it would make officers hesitate in high-stakes situations, risking more injuries or deaths. How did Albahm’s killers avoid public accountability? The four officers who shot Albahm last year refused to answer questions or cooperate with the AG’s probe. Here’s how that played out, according to the AG’s office. The AG’s office requested that the officers meet with investigators. In most prior cases, police shooters have accepted the request and cooperated. But not this time. Despite repeated requests, the officers – through their union lawyers – declined to be interviewed or provide sworn statements, the AG’s office said. Mungeer, the state police union president, made no apologies for advising the trooper to remain silent. “It’s not to stonewall. It’s to protect the rights of our troopers,” Mungeer said. “Legally, we’re protecting them. And administratively, we’re protecting them.” That left the next move to the AG’s office. The typical way a prosecutor’s office can compel people to cooperate is through a grand jury subpoena. James didn’t subpoena the officers. Here’s why: Under New York law, prosecutors cannot use a person’s grand jury testimony to bring a charge against that person. That has roots in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits forcing someone to provide self-incriminating testimony. New York makes such protection automatic for grand jury witnesses in hopes that it will encourage cooperation. In other words, the AG can force any of the witnesses who are not under criminal prosecution to provide information under oath. But if she forces the actual people under investigation to do so, she gives up any right to prosecute them based on what they say. In Albahm’s case, every officer who did not fire their guns could be forced by the AG to provide a witness account. The AG’s office interviewed numerous witnesses. But forcing the shooters themselves into testifying would prevent her from prosecuting them based on anything they said. The only exception is when someone lies under oath in sworn testimony; that’s perjury. The AG didn’t want to give up her right to prosecute the shooters, so she didn’t order them to testify, her spokeswoman said. After all, none of what they said could have been used in the criminal probe. At some point, the AG decided not to prosecute. So why didn’t she try to get their statements then? It turns out that two of the shooters, Trooper Fike and sheriff’s Sgt. Bollinger, had provided internal statements as part of departmental investigations by their respective agencies, spokespeople said. But in Fike’s case, that didn’t happen until a year after the shooting, according to the AG’s office. The AG’s spokeswoman questioned how useful it would be so long after the incident. So that left the AG with police statements from only two of the shooters: DeWitt investigators Menard and Byron, who filed their reports in the days after the shooting and then refused to cooperate further. The officers’ refusal to cooperate left an inconsistency in the AG’s report, said Zukher, the family’s lawyer. The two DeWitt officers, Byron and Menard, filed police statements that appear to contradict each other in what the lawyer says was a crucial detail. Both officers wrote that Albahm pointed his lookalike gun at Byron, leading officers to open fire about 25 times. After an eight-second pause, there was a second volley of about 25 shots, the AG’s report states. Byron wrote that, between the two volleys, he saw Albahm fall to the ground, then stand back up and begin reaching for his air gun again, the AG’s report states. But Menard wrote that, between volleys, he saw Albahm sit up with the air gun still in his hand and appear to point the fake gun at Byron again, the AG’s report states. It’s the kind of question that might have been cleared up had the officers agreed to talk. Prosecutors have faced such a challenge – being barred from using compelled testimony by police officers in criminal probes – for decades, an expert in police investigations said. “An officer does not surrender his rights when he gets to the precinct door,” said lawyer Mark Porter, a former police officer in Michigan who now represents police unions. He pointed to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Garrity vs. New Jersey, which gave police protection from being forced to give statements that can be used in criminal prosecutions against them. That was based on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. “Since Garrity and its companion cases were issued in the late 1960s, it’s become something of a Holy Grail to police officers – and a Gordian knot to its detractors,” Porter wrote in a widely cited legal paper in 2002. The only way for the AG to get testimony from police officers under criminal investigation is to either give them immunity or convince them to sign a waiver of immunity. Before James took over probes of fatal police encounters, DA Fitzpatrick said he routinely got officers to give up their right to immunity – allowing them to be charged – as part of his grand jury investigations. He said he never found reason to charge anyone. Without cooperation from the officers, the AG used 911 records, other body-camera footage and interviews with other responders, as well as an interview with Albahm’s mother, to decide that no charges would be filed. There was enough evidence to reject criminal prosecution of the officers, even without hearing from them directly, both the AG and union agreed. Primary Gubernatorial Poll A recently released Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill poll showed Gov. Kathy Hochul with a 57% majority of support in the Democratic Primary, followed by Tom Suozzi with 17% and Jumaane Williams with 6%. Twenty percent are undecided. In the Republican primary for governor, Congressman Lee Zeldin holds a double-digit lead over his closest competitor with 34%. Rob Astorino follows with 16%, trailed by Harry Wilson at 15% and Andrew Giuliani at 13%. Twenty-two percent are undecided. Tweet of the Week “Anyone seen New York State gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani and Buddy Pine from The Incredibles in the same place?” - Don Lewis (@DonLew87) - Attorney and continual criticizer of Rudy Giuliani Tale of Two Cities The same aforementioned poll also asked for party line job approval ratings on a state gubernatorial level as well as a presidential level. The results were surprising (NOT!). Among Democratic primary voters Governor Hochul 59% approve 26% disapprove 14% are unsure. Among Republican primary voters Governor Hochul 16% approve 76% disapprove 8% are unsure Among Democratic primary voters President Biden 67% approve 26% disapprove 7% are unsure Among Republican primary voters President Biden 15% approve 83% disapprove 2% are unsure Apparently, there is a political divide in this country. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . . "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!” The Feds arrested two Brooklyn men who sold fake badges, credentials, ID cards and “law enforcement organization membership cards” online to people hoping for some magical elixir during future traffic stops. Eduard Zabolotnyy, 54, made at least $100,000 peddling his items on eBay and Daniel Spektor, 21, paid Zabolotnyy about $35,640 between May and October 2021, only to turn around and sell the badges and IDs on his social media accounts for a profit, charging between $450 and $900, and offering testimonials from satisfied customers. “I got a story for you,” one of those testimonials read. “I’m upstate and break a red light infront [sic] of a cop doing 90 in a 40, cop walks up sees the FOP on the windshield sees the cards, hands me back my stuff says have a nice day and drive safe. Bro!” [Editor’s note – Yeah, I’m sure that really happened tough guy.] He also offered an FBI “Family Member” badge for $5,000, referring to it as the “holy grail.” “If you pull this bad boy out you’re getting out of a 200 in a 20,” he wrote. [Editor’s note – ibid.] Spektor got himself jammed up last December when he flashed his own fake FBI badge when he was pulled over on Staten Island. “The badge appeared the same or substantially similar to a legitimate FBI badge, which is designed by the FBI for use by its law enforcement agents,” U.S. Postal Inspector Joseph E. Marcus wrote in his affidavit. “The identification card had affixed to it what appears to be a seal of the FBI.” This whole scenario sounds very, very familiar although I can’t quite place where I heard about a farcical, non-law enforcement group selling fake Paul Blart: Mall Cop bullshit security guard badges. I will have to get back to you on that one. This Week’s Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us Republican Primary Gubernatorial Debate As I alluded to last week, besides topics including public safety, the environment and ethics, during the hour-long debate among the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Gov. Kathy Hochul, Congressman Tom Suozzi and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – there was a segment asking candidates to provide "one-word" responses in a lightning round of questions that included: Do you believe in ghosts? - Superman or Batman? and Go-to karaoke song? Much like last week’s debate, this week’s Republican Primary debate ended with a rapid-fire round of questions that included: Yoga or spin? (All of the candidates were reluctant to pick either workout method, though Andrew Giuliani ultimately said he would pick “a little bit of spin.”) Favorite smell? Rob Astorino: wife’s hair, Andrew Giuliani: morning dew, Lee Zeldin: victory, and Harry Wilson: wife’s perfume. So, our future leadership may (or may not) hinge on a DC Comics character, a catchy tune, preferred method of exercise and what someone’s wife smells like. I believe we now have enough information available to make an educated decision in the upcoming primaries. "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. ... It smells like victory." - Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), “Apocalypse Now” (1979). This Week’s Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us - Deux According to a recent ruling by the New York State Court of Appeals, elephants are not human beings with constitutional rights. The Nonhuman Rights Project had challenged the Bronx Zoo’s confinement of Happy, a 41-year-old elephant, arguing that she, as an intelligent being, should be able to sue under habeas corpus rights against improper detention. Judge Janet DiFiore wrote in the majority’s 5-2 decision that “nothing in our precedent or, in fact, that of any other state or federal court, provides support for the notion that the writ of habeas corpus is or should be applicable to nonhuman animals.” She added that a decision in favor of Happy “would have an enormous destabilizing impact on modern society…[calling] into question the very premises underlying pet ownership, the use of service animals, and the enlistment of animals in other forms of work.” I add this piece under this heading for the fact that TWO justices of our state’s highest court - the New York State Court of Appeals – disagreed with the decision. Oy vey! “Feel-good from a bunch of boobs." The Albany County Legislature, mirroring a similar law in Westchester, is considering legislation that would add a printed warning to every firearm purchase in the county - on standard sized letter paper and in at least 26 font - and would require any business or person that sells firearms in the county to give buyers a notice on the potential public health risks that come with owning a gun. Each one would say: “Access to a weapon or firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of suicide, homicide, death during domestic disputes and unintentional deaths to children, household members and others. If you or a loved one is experiencing distress and/or depression, call the crisis prevention and response team at (914) 925-5959 or the National Suicide Hotline at 988.” Failure to hand out the notices would result in a punishment of up to 15 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Albany area gun store owner and unabashed law enforcement supporter Brian Olesen summed up the legislation perfectly by calling it "feel-good from a bunch of boobs." “And that’s all I got to say about that.” - Forrest Gump Happy Father’s Day to all, especially those who are out on the road keeping us safe! This email is an automated notification, which is unable to receive replies. To send a comment to the NYSTPBA, please contact us at nystpba@nystpba.org

The Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers 120 State St. Albany, New York 12207 (518) 462-7448 http://www.nystpba.org Important Notice about NYSTPBA Scholarships The deadline for applying for a NYSTPBA Scholarship has been extended to close-of-business (4 p.m.) on Friday, June 24, 2022. Details about the scholarships including eligibility and the online application can be found by logging into the PBA website at www.nystpba.org clicking on the “NYSTPBA Scholarships for 2022” page. (Please note the scholarship information is not available through the PBA’s app – it is available only on the website.) The Signal 30 Fund is offering more than 100 scholarships this year and the scholarship will be disbursed in August 2022. If you have any questions, please email Ann Neeson at aneeson@nystpba.org. Les Misérables ACT 1 – The Crime Earlier in the week a video surfaced of an individual, later identified as 60-year-old William Ryan of the town of Newburgh, screaming out multiple racial slurs at a Newburgh pastor as he drove by him on Broadway in that city. Apparently, before the video started, Ryan also threatened the pastor with a knife. Oh yeah, Ryan can also be heard yelling, “I’m an off-duty Trooper,” as he drove away, his license plate clearly visible. To any of us on the job, after one cursory glance at the video you immediately discount the fact that this guy was ever one of us. Division jumped right on the case and the city of Newburgh PD quickly arrested this knucklehead for menacing as a hate crime in the second degree. Seemingly an open and shut case? Yes and no. ACT II – Don’t Use Us as Clickbait Material In the wild, wild world of social media, where any half-assed wannabe “journalist” can create a seemingly real news platform, enter the Hudson Valley Post, which posted the following headline to the related story on the incident: ‘Off-Duty’ New York State Police Trooper Screams Racist Slurs At Newburgh, NY Pastor. I immediately took umbrage to this attempt to use the NYSP as “clickbait” material and sent out the following release: The New York State Troopers PBA is denouncing the publication of a sensationalized article in a Hudson Valley news outlet and demanding a correction. The Hudson Valley Post is featuring a so-called article online with the headline of “‘Off-Duty Trooper’ Screams Racist Slurs at Pastor in Newburgh, NY.” The article itself contains official statements from the New York State Police, elected officials and the NAACP that the individual spewing racist comments is NOT – and has never been - a New York State Trooper, yet this news outlet continues to promote the article with an irresponsible and false headline. The NYSTPBA is demanding a correction. “To the Hudson Valley Post: how dare you use the good name of the New York State Police as clickbait material to try to increase your almost non-existent readership,” said NYSTPBA President Thomas H. Mungeer. “I’m amazed that this article confirms the individual spewing hateful rhetoric was not an off-duty Trooper, yet this so-called investigative journalism piece relies on this individual’s offensive claims to boost interest in this news outlet. I could claim that I’m Queen Elizabeth, but that doesn’t make it so.” ACT III - The Rebuttal Almost immediately after sending the press release, we received the following response from Robert Welber, Brand Manager at the Hudson Valley Post: The headline to this article was changed well before this statement. To clarify in the headline he is not a trooper. The original headline had quotes around 'Off-Duty Trooper' to also clarify the person in question said that. Quotes are used in headlines as a way to show it's not the publication saying the quote but it comes from someone in the article. The article stated 3 times the man is not a police officer, but he claimed to be. Hudson Valley Post has had a great relationship with Troopers from the Hudson Valley. One we hope to continue. I apologize for the misunderstanding. All the best, Bobby Welber ACT IV - Finis After all of the back and forth, the Hudson Valley Post proved that they are definitely not setting or following any of the journalistic standards of the Old Gray Lady of bygone days, as they changed the headline to the following: Liar ‘Off-Duty Trooper’ Arrested For Hate Crime in Newburgh, NY. Dear Bobby: Thank you for the grammar and punctuation lesson. Your reporting still sucks. Don’t hold your breath during the next round of Pulitzer Prize voting. All the best, Tom Under the Microscope A recent Syracuse Post Standard article investigated an officer-involved shooting last year and questioned the reasons why the law enforcement officers (including our member) failed to voluntarily speak to investigators from the Attorney General’s Office of Special Investigations. I gave the reporter my opinion and overall I believe I was quoted correctly. There was one statement in which I was a little more direct than what was printed - Thomas Mungeer, president of the state police union, can pinpoint the moment that his union stopped cooperating with the AG’s investigations of police killings….. At a bail hearing, the AG’s office asked [Trooper] Baldner to be jailed as a flight risk, and the judge agreed. (The judge later reversed course and allowed Balder out on bail.) At the time, Mungeer called James a liar and accused her of using the Baldner case to propel her brief campaign for governor. “That’s pretty much when our trust of AG took a severe right turn,” Mungeer told Syracuse.com. My actual statement was, “The turning point in the relationship was when I sat and witnessed the attorneys for the Attorney General’s Office lie to a county court judge that our Trooper was a flight risk.” The reporter and I also had a difference of opinion on the fact that the AG was investigating off-duty incidents involving Troopers in which they were not involved in any police-related activities. The reporter believed the AG should have that power even if it created a situation in which our Trooper’s rights may be violated. My response is simple - Troopers are not above the law, however, there shouldn’t be a two-tiered system that results in us being beneath it, either. The distrust and secrecy in NY that undercut accountability in cops’ killing of Judson Albahm Published: Jun. 15, 2022, 6:00 a.m. By Douglass Dowty | ddowty@syracuse.com Syracuse, NY – The four police officers who fired 50 shots at a Jamesville teen and killed him more than a year ago refused to cooperate with a state investigation into their actions. The shooters – two DeWitt officers, a state trooper and an Onondaga County sheriff’s deputy – ducked a state Attorney General’s Office criminal investigation of 17-year-old Judson Albahm’s death in March 2021. Albahm was seeking suicide-by-cop, waving an air gun that looked like a real gun, when he was hit 16 times by the officers: DeWitt police Investigators Matthew Menard and Lucas Byron; Trooper Corey Fike; and sheriff’s Sgt. Amy Bollinger. In May, state Attorney General Letitia James cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing based on other accounts. Her report criticized the three agencies for a lack of coordination in the hour before Albahm’s death. It questioned whether the first officers who opened fire knew he had mental health issues and a history of carrying an air gun. The officers’ decision to avoid questioning is a terrible look. Police complain when citizens won’t help officers. Here, the officers themselves are refusing to cooperate with law enforcement. A Syracuse.com review of what went wrong here shows the hard feelings that have grown among certain law enforcement toward the attorney general’s office. It also shows the problems that come from having the AG’s office look for both the criminal conduct of officers and structural lapses in policing that need change. In this case, the public is denied a thorough review of questions raised by the shooting. More than a dozen officers responded to a mental health call about Albahm that ended in a hail of gunfire. Did the shooters all know he was looking to get shot? Did they know Albahm’s mother had warned officers that he had an air gun? Was there a non-lethal way to end the police pursuit of the troubled teen? The four officers’ testimony was key to finding those answers because not one of them had a body camera. The three police departments also have refused to answer questions from Syracuse.com about their role in the teen’s death. Instead, it appears that Albahm’s family will have to get those answers in their lawsuit against the police departments. “It’s absolutely clear that they didn’t want to talk to the AG,” David Zukher, a Syracuse lawyer for Albahm’s family, said of the officers. “It must be part of some legal strategy.” He added: “As part of the civil action, I’ll be sending out deposition notices, and we’ll get to the bottom of what happened.” That none of the shooters spoke to James’ office diminished the accountability promised when the state AG’s office took over investigating deadly police encounters involving unarmed people in 2015. Statewide, those local probes had been criticized for allowing a local prosecutor to investigate the actions of police agencies, two entities that cooperate with each other on a daily basis. Back then, local law enforcement involved in fatal shootings routinely cooperated with grand jury probes led by the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office. Longtime DA William Fitzpatrick said he’d never found reason to charge an officer in a deadly shooting. But he still required officers to give a sworn account in order to be publicly cleared, he said. The Albahm investigation reveals an impact of having an outside agency in charge of the probe. It also surfaces a growing distrust by troopers and other law enforcement of James’ office, which has pressed for police accountability in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The AG “requested interviews with all the discharging officers, and all refused to be interviewed,” notes the final report. Albahm’s death is one of only two police-involved death investigations by the AG closed in the past year in which on-duty officers declined to cooperate with the probe, based on a Syracuse.com review of published AG reports. In the other case, a state trooper is now facing a murder charge in an 11-year-old girl’s death. A growing distrust Thomas Mungeer, president of the state police union, can pinpoint the moment that his union stopped cooperating with the AG’s investigations of police killings. In October 2021, the AG charged Trooper Christopher Baldner with murder after a 2020 police chase in the Hudson Valley led to the death of an 11-year-old girl. Baldner rammed the fleeing vehicle at high speed, causing the vehicle to crash and flip over a guardrail. The troopers’ union, which represents Baldner, maintains the trooper was simply doing his job after the other driver recklessly fled a traffic stop. James’s office pursued a murder charge, with a grand jury voting to indict Baldner on accusations that he acted with depraved indifference to human life. At a bail hearing, the AG’s office asked Baldner to be jailed as a flight risk, and the judge agreed. (The judge later reversed course and allowed Balder out on bail.) At the time, Mungeer called James a liar and accused her of using the Baldner case to propel her brief campaign for governor. “That’s pretty much when our trust of AG took a severe right turn,” Mungeer told Syracuse.com. State police haven’t cooperated with her investigations into police-involved fatalities since that November 2021 bail hearing, Mungeer said. The union can’t tell troopers to not cooperate, but the union – which provides legal representation – is advising them not to. The state police union and the AG have also clashed recently over her power and policy. After a July 2021 car crash involving an off-duty trooper in a Syracuse suburb, the AG sent investigators to a hospital to probe whether the trooper was at fault for the other driver’s death, according to a lawsuit filed later by the troopers’ union. Troopers had investigated the crash involving one of their own, and had determined that the other driver had crossed the center line of Route 31 near Radisson and crashed into the vehicle driven by Trooper Paul Kuropatwinski. A state police news release about the crash at the time did not identify one of the drivers as an off-duty trooper. The troopers’ union was incensed that the AG had sent investigators to the hospital of the injured trooper. It sued James, asking an Albany County judge to limit the AG’s power to investigate such cases. A judge sided with the AG; the union is appealing. The AG later agreed there was no proof the trooper was responsible for the death and returned the probe to local authorities. There’s also James’ push in Albany to make it easier to charge police with crimes in fatal encounters with civilians. James says she should be able to criminally charge officers who needlessly escalate encounters with civilians, leading to their deaths. In a May 2021 news conference, she pointed to the deaths of Eric Garner, who died from a police chokehold on Staten Island in 2013, and Daniel Prude, who died after a physical restraint in Rochester in 2020. Her proposal would also require police to seek non-lethal options first, even in cases where someone is armed and suspected of a serious felony. Police unions have lambasted James’s proposal, saying that it will hamstring officers. Mungeer has said that it would make officers hesitate in high-stakes situations, risking more injuries or deaths. How did Albahm’s killers avoid public accountability? The four officers who shot Albahm last year refused to answer questions or cooperate with the AG’s probe. Here’s how that played out, according to the AG’s office. The AG’s office requested that the officers meet with investigators. In most prior cases, police shooters have accepted the request and cooperated. But not this time. Despite repeated requests, the officers – through their union lawyers – declined to be interviewed or provide sworn statements, the AG’s office said. Mungeer, the state police union president, made no apologies for advising the trooper to remain silent. “It’s not to stonewall. It’s to protect the rights of our troopers,” Mungeer said. “Legally, we’re protecting them. And administratively, we’re protecting them.” That left the next move to the AG’s office. The typical way a prosecutor’s office can compel people to cooperate is through a grand jury subpoena. James didn’t subpoena the officers. Here’s why: Under New York law, prosecutors cannot use a person’s grand jury testimony to bring a charge against that person. That has roots in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits forcing someone to provide self-incriminating testimony. New York makes such protection automatic for grand jury witnesses in hopes that it will encourage cooperation. In other words, the AG can force any of the witnesses who are not under criminal prosecution to provide information under oath. But if she forces the actual people under investigation to do so, she gives up any right to prosecute them based on what they say. In Albahm’s case, every officer who did not fire their guns could be forced by the AG to provide a witness account. The AG’s office interviewed numerous witnesses. But forcing the shooters themselves into testifying would prevent her from prosecuting them based on anything they said. The only exception is when someone lies under oath in sworn testimony; that’s perjury. The AG didn’t want to give up her right to prosecute the shooters, so she didn’t order them to testify, her spokeswoman said. After all, none of what they said could have been used in the criminal probe. At some point, the AG decided not to prosecute. So why didn’t she try to get their statements then? It turns out that two of the shooters, Trooper Fike and sheriff’s Sgt. Bollinger, had provided internal statements as part of departmental investigations by their respective agencies, spokespeople said. But in Fike’s case, that didn’t happen until a year after the shooting, according to the AG’s office. The AG’s spokeswoman questioned how useful it would be so long after the incident. So that left the AG with police statements from only two of the shooters: DeWitt investigators Menard and Byron, who filed their reports in the days after the shooting and then refused to cooperate further. The officers’ refusal to cooperate left an inconsistency in the AG’s report, said Zukher, the family’s lawyer. The two DeWitt officers, Byron and Menard, filed police statements that appear to contradict each other in what the lawyer says was a crucial detail. Both officers wrote that Albahm pointed his lookalike gun at Byron, leading officers to open fire about 25 times. After an eight-second pause, there was a second volley of about 25 shots, the AG’s report states. Byron wrote that, between the two volleys, he saw Albahm fall to the ground, then stand back up and begin reaching for his air gun again, the AG’s report states. But Menard wrote that, between volleys, he saw Albahm sit up with the air gun still in his hand and appear to point the fake gun at Byron again, the AG’s report states. It’s the kind of question that might have been cleared up had the officers agreed to talk. Prosecutors have faced such a challenge – being barred from using compelled testimony by police officers in criminal probes – for decades, an expert in police investigations said. “An officer does not surrender his rights when he gets to the precinct door,” said lawyer Mark Porter, a former police officer in Michigan who now represents police unions. He pointed to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Garrity vs. New Jersey, which gave police protection from being forced to give statements that can be used in criminal prosecutions against them. That was based on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. “Since Garrity and its companion cases were issued in the late 1960s, it’s become something of a Holy Grail to police officers – and a Gordian knot to its detractors,” Porter wrote in a widely cited legal paper in 2002. The only way for the AG to get testimony from police officers under criminal investigation is to either give them immunity or convince them to sign a waiver of immunity. Before James took over probes of fatal police encounters, DA Fitzpatrick said he routinely got officers to give up their right to immunity – allowing them to be charged – as part of his grand jury investigations. He said he never found reason to charge anyone. Without cooperation from the officers, the AG used 911 records, other body-camera footage and interviews with other responders, as well as an interview with Albahm’s mother, to decide that no charges would be filed. There was enough evidence to reject criminal prosecution of the officers, even without hearing from them directly, both the AG and union agreed. Primary Gubernatorial Poll A recently released Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill poll showed Gov. Kathy Hochul with a 57% majority of support in the Democratic Primary, followed by Tom Suozzi with 17% and Jumaane Williams with 6%. Twenty percent are undecided. In the Republican primary for governor, Congressman Lee Zeldin holds a double-digit lead over his closest competitor with 34%. Rob Astorino follows with 16%, trailed by Harry Wilson at 15% and Andrew Giuliani at 13%. Twenty-two percent are undecided. Tweet of the Week “Anyone seen New York State gubernatorial candidate Andrew Giuliani and Buddy Pine from The Incredibles in the same place?” - Don Lewis (@DonLew87) - Attorney and continual criticizer of Rudy Giuliani Tale of Two Cities The same aforementioned poll also asked for party line job approval ratings on a state gubernatorial level as well as a presidential level. The results were surprising (NOT!). Among Democratic primary voters Governor Hochul 59% approve 26% disapprove 14% are unsure. Among Republican primary voters Governor Hochul 16% approve 76% disapprove 8% are unsure Among Democratic primary voters President Biden 67% approve 26% disapprove 7% are unsure Among Republican primary voters President Biden 15% approve 83% disapprove 2% are unsure Apparently, there is a political divide in this country. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . . "Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges!” The Feds arrested two Brooklyn men who sold fake badges, credentials, ID cards and “law enforcement organization membership cards” online to people hoping for some magical elixir during future traffic stops. Eduard Zabolotnyy, 54, made at least $100,000 peddling his items on eBay and Daniel Spektor, 21, paid Zabolotnyy about $35,640 between May and October 2021, only to turn around and sell the badges and IDs on his social media accounts for a profit, charging between $450 and $900, and offering testimonials from satisfied customers. “I got a story for you,” one of those testimonials read. “I’m upstate and break a red light infront [sic] of a cop doing 90 in a 40, cop walks up sees the FOP on the windshield sees the cards, hands me back my stuff says have a nice day and drive safe. Bro!” [Editor’s note – Yeah, I’m sure that really happened tough guy.] He also offered an FBI “Family Member” badge for $5,000, referring to it as the “holy grail.” “If you pull this bad boy out you’re getting out of a 200 in a 20,” he wrote. [Editor’s note – ibid.] Spektor got himself jammed up last December when he flashed his own fake FBI badge when he was pulled over on Staten Island. “The badge appeared the same or substantially similar to a legitimate FBI badge, which is designed by the FBI for use by its law enforcement agents,” U.S. Postal Inspector Joseph E. Marcus wrote in his affidavit. “The identification card had affixed to it what appears to be a seal of the FBI.” This whole scenario sounds very, very familiar although I can’t quite place where I heard about a farcical, non-law enforcement group selling fake Paul Blart: Mall Cop bullshit security guard badges. I will have to get back to you on that one. This Week’s Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us Republican Primary Gubernatorial Debate As I alluded to last week, besides topics including public safety, the environment and ethics, during the hour-long debate among the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates – Gov. Kathy Hochul, Congressman Tom Suozzi and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – there was a segment asking candidates to provide "one-word" responses in a lightning round of questions that included: Do you believe in ghosts? - Superman or Batman? and Go-to karaoke song? Much like last week’s debate, this week’s Republican Primary debate ended with a rapid-fire round of questions that included: Yoga or spin? (All of the candidates were reluctant to pick either workout method, though Andrew Giuliani ultimately said he would pick “a little bit of spin.”) Favorite smell? Rob Astorino: wife’s hair, Andrew Giuliani: morning dew, Lee Zeldin: victory, and Harry Wilson: wife’s perfume. So, our future leadership may (or may not) hinge on a DC Comics character, a catchy tune, preferred method of exercise and what someone’s wife smells like. I believe we now have enough information available to make an educated decision in the upcoming primaries. "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. ... It smells like victory." - Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), “Apocalypse Now” (1979). This Week’s Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us - Deux According to a recent ruling by the New York State Court of Appeals, elephants are not human beings with constitutional rights. The Nonhuman Rights Project had challenged the Bronx Zoo’s confinement of Happy, a 41-year-old elephant, arguing that she, as an intelligent being, should be able to sue under habeas corpus rights against improper detention. Judge Janet DiFiore wrote in the majority’s 5-2 decision that “nothing in our precedent or, in fact, that of any other state or federal court, provides support for the notion that the writ of habeas corpus is or should be applicable to nonhuman animals.” She added that a decision in favor of Happy “would have an enormous destabilizing impact on modern society…[calling] into question the very premises underlying pet ownership, the use of service animals, and the enlistment of animals in other forms of work.” I add this piece under this heading for the fact that TWO justices of our state’s highest court - the New York State Court of Appeals – disagreed with the decision. Oy vey! “Feel-good from a bunch of boobs." The Albany County Legislature, mirroring a similar law in Westchester, is considering legislation that would add a printed warning to every firearm purchase in the county - on standard sized letter paper and in at least 26 font - and would require any business or person that sells firearms in the county to give buyers a notice on the potential public health risks that come with owning a gun. Each one would say: “Access to a weapon or firearm in the home significantly increases the risk of suicide, homicide, death during domestic disputes and unintentional deaths to children, household members and others. If you or a loved one is experiencing distress and/or depression, call the crisis prevention and response team at (914) 925-5959 or the National Suicide Hotline at 988.” Failure to hand out the notices would result in a punishment of up to 15 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Albany area gun store owner and unabashed law enforcement supporter Brian Olesen summed up the legislation perfectly by calling it "feel-good from a bunch of boobs." “And that’s all I got to say about that.” - Forrest Gump Happy Father’s Day to all, especially those who are out on the road keeping us safe! This email is an automated notification, which is unable to receive replies. To send a comment to the NYSTPBA, please contact us at nystpba@nystpba.org

The Police Benevolent Association of the New York State Troopers 120 State St. Albany, New York 12207 (518) 462-7448 http://www.nystpba.org

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