SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (News10)- According to the Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner, three officers who were part of a November officer-involved shooting, as well as other members of the department, have received subpoenas to testify in front of a grand jury.
“All I can say, is that grand jury subpoenas have been received for the month of March for the testimony of a number of our officers,” Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino told News10. The move signals that the grand jury process is moving forward in a case that has been embroiled in controversy and had even the focus of a temporary gag order.
In December, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen dropped her gag order barring city officials, namely Montagnino and Mayor Ron Kim, from speaking publicly about the shooting on Broadway on a busy bar night. Montagnino and Kim repeatedly said they were not trying to jeopardize the investigation, only hoping to appear transparent in order to quell any misinformation.
Heggen told News10’s Anya Tucker that she would not comment on any outgoing subpoenas to preserve the integrity of the grand jury process and the investigation.
The officers had been responding to a shootout between two men identified as Alex Colon, a barber from Utica and Vito Caselnova, an off duty, part-time Rutland Vermont Deputy. Caselnova’s attorney, Greg Teresi, claims it was Colon and a group of other men who came after his client and girlfriend. “He [Colon] brought a gun to a fistfight. And then, when he brought that gun to the fist fight, he decided to point that at my client and his girlfriend and fire upon them.” Teresi says he doesn’t know what precipitated the fight, but he says Caselnova fired his own legally obtained weapon, firing back in defense. Hearing the shots nearby officers rushed in.
Body camera video from that night shows the perspective from the Saratoga Springs officers as they round a corner onto busy Broadway, shouting commands for Caselnova to drop his weapon. When he fails to comply, they fired upon him. His attorney says Caselnova was in a fog after being shot and didn’t hear the commands from responding officers to drop his gun. “And to that point if they had announced police, you know drop your gun. Would that have changed the way that he would’ve handled it Or, would he have continued to focus on his attacker? I don’t know,” said Teresi.
Everyone survived. It’s unclear right now who will ultimately face any charges. In the meantime, Montagnino says the three officers, two of whom are field training officers, will soon return to their regular jobs after being cleared to come back. “Oh, I mean they were spectacular. They acted bravely and in line with the requirements of their jobs,” said Montagnino of the officers’ actions the night of the shooting.
Caselnova’s girlfriend who says she was shot through the arm by the officers has indicated she will sue the city. Her attorney Steve Coffey has filed a notice of claim.
Alex Colon has not responded to repeated requests for comment.