Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy has been cleared of any wrongdoing for an incident that occurred last May.
A woman had reported that McCarthy followed her in his car to the city police station last May after he said she was acting suspiciously; the woman said the Mayor appeared to have been drunk.
While she decided against filing charges, the Gazette reports that Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen, who acted as a special prosecutor, said the Schenectady Police Department should have had another police agency handle the investigation because it involved the city’s Chief Executive. McCarthy denies he was drunk.
A 10 page report was released Friday, which included six recommendations. Here are those recommendations. CLICK HERE to read the full report.
As to the choices and conduct of those involved that evening, while not rising to the level of a violation of the law, the actions of the members of the Schenectady Police Department and Mr. Gary McCarthy raise concerns. The following are recommendations of alternative actions that should have been taken that evening:
1. Another police agency should have been called in to take over the investigation because Mr. McCarthy is the Mayor of Schenectady and the person who makes determinations regarding the police department, including promotions.
2. Mr. McCarthy should have called law enforcement to investigate his concerns rather than follow a vehicle through the city and attempt to have the vehicle stop for him.
3. After allegations of the smell of alcohol coming from Mr. McCarthy, field sobriety testing and administration of a breath pre-screening test should have been conducted by members of the Schenectady Police Department or preferably, another law enforcement agency.
4. The operators of the vehicles should have provide written statements to the police inside the station rather than allow the parties to leave the scene without gathering any written information.
5. Another police agency should have been called in to take over the investigation because Mr. McCarthy is the Mayor of Schenectady and the person who makes determinations regarding the police department, including promotions;
6. The passenger in the van should have been identified and interviewed separately.
The majority of the people involved in the incident that evening provide a consistent version of what occurred. The actions of the people involved are largely captured on video and corroborate the statements given. As it relates to the driving and verbal interaction between McCarthy and Dingley, it is my opinion that there were not any actions by any party involved in the incident on May 19, 2016 that rose to the level of a violation of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law or the Penal Law. As it pertains to McCarthy’s condition on that evening and whether he was under the influence of alcohol, there is not sufficient information to find that he was impaired or intoxicated.
Ms. Dingley’s version of the actions of those involved have been somewhat corroborated by the videos and 911 calls. However, her interpretation of the events as to allegations of violations of the law, including Mr. McCarthy’s smelling of alcohol and being drunk, as well as her contention that favoritism was shown to him do not match up with the information provided by others. The five police officers from the Schenectady Police Department who were present during the incident were interviewed. Only one police officer made a disclosure that he smelled alcohol, but could not say if it was coming from Mr. McCarthy’s breath or not because he never spoke with McCarthy or got close to him. The Lieutenant who did speak directly with McCarthy said he did not smell alcohol on McCarthy’s breath and he observed no signs that McCarthy was intoxicated. None of the police officers who were interviewed felt that the Mayor used or attempted to use his political status to influence the complaint. When McCarthy told Ms. Dingley to “get outta here,” she left on her own, without being directed by any member of the police to leave.
Ms. Dingley also told us that she thought she was being targeted by the Schenectady Police since the May 19, 2016 incident. A review of the calls to Schenectady Police since May 19, 2016 that involving Sarah Dingley were all initiated by a third party complaining about her. None were initiated by the Schenectady Police. Ms. Dingley did receive a parking ticket since May 19, 2016, which was issued by the City of Schenectady’s Parking Enforcement not by the Schenectady Police, and Ms. Dingley paid it. Since the incident, Ms. Dingley has told our office that she just wants to be left alone and has declined to cooperate with us in providing other information sought from her.
Having been directed to investigate the incident and make a determination if there are any criminal or vehicle and traffic charges that should result from that evening, I have concluded that based upon the totality of all the evidence gathered and shared as attachments to this report, that there should be no charges filed against any of the individuals involved in the incident that occurred on May 19, 2016 at approximately 1:00 AM in the City of Schenectady involving Gary McCarthy, Sarah Dingley and five members of the Schenectady Police Department.
Photo: City of Schenectady