Colonie police officer suspended after bar fight - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Colonie police officer suspended after bar fight

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Robert Willey (Photo: Warren County Sheriff's Office) Robert Willey (Photo: Warren County Sheriff's Office)

COLONIE, N.Y. -  A Colonie Police Officer has been charged with assault following an investigation into a bar fight that happened in King Neptune's Bar in Lake George Village in August of 2012.

The Warren County Sheriff's Office says 36-year-old Robert Willey, of Colonie, has been charged Friday with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

A 39-year-old male victim suffered the loss of three teeth following a fight at the bar. The subsequent investigation led to the identification of Willey as the individual responsible.

Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider says the alleged fight involved four or five officers from his department and state corrections officers.

"We know exactly who's been involved. We've talked to everyone that's been involved, including Officer Willey prior to his arrest. So we know pretty much what happened. It's been described as similar to a rugby scrum," Heider said.

"There was a fight in the bar and an individual was assaulted wherein he lost three teeth as a result of it," said Lt. Steve Stockdale with the Warren County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities describe it as a classic bar fight back in August between four or five Colonie police officers going up against state corrections officers, but declined to say what the exact cause was.

It happened after midnight on a Saturday night and drinking was involved, which authorities say made getting information more of a challenge.

"In this case there were witnesses to locate and interview, surveillance video to acquire and put into a readable format and we want to make sure due diligence is done before we make any accusations," said Lt. Stockdale.

Heider says he found the accusations surprising and disturbing. "He's in very good standing. He's done a terrific job for us as an officer but that doesn't take away the seriousness of what we're dealing with here today."

Willey has been with the Colonie Police Department since 2010. Heider confirms the department is conducting its own internal investigation into the matter.

"It's what I would call stupid behavior. It's something we don't condone but it doesn't necessarily mean that in any shape or form it infringes his ability to impart what we consider extraordinary police work for us," Heider said.

In the meantime, Willey has been suspended without pay.

Due diligence in this case took seven months. The Colonie Police Department conducted its own internal investigation into the matter. Chief Steven Heider tells NEWS10 the incident has left him frustrated. 

"This is another one of those situations where off duty conduct, alcohol involved. It's something that concerns us tremendously. They are humans, they make mistakes. We just wish they would learn not to make these kinds of mistakes," said Heider.


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