Charge dismissed against Schenectady man in controversial arrest

Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One misdemeanor charge has been dropped against a Schenectady man who was the subject of a controversial arrest in July. A Schenectady officer was caught on camera with his knee on the head and neck area of Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud after he was accused of damaging his neighbor’s tires.

The criminal mischief charge Gaindarpersaud faced was dismissed on the grounds of insufficient evidence. “There was no credible evidence that he had done that. They reviewed home surveillance footage from a nearby residence and frankly that video contained no information whatsoever,” says Derek Andrews, Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s attorney. Gaindarpersaud’s resisting arrest charge was adjourned in contemplation of dismissal. This means the charge will automatically be dismissed in six months unless Gaindarpersaud violates the law during that time. “As long as Mr. Gaindarpersaud doesn’t have any new arrests or anything like that, that charge would also be dismissed,” says Andrews.

A resolution—signed by Gaindarpersaud, his lawyer, and Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney—acknowledges that mistakes were made by both Gaindarpersaud and the arresting officer, Brian Pommer. It further acknowledges that mutual distrust and “unhelpful assumptions” contributed to the mistakes. “We all agree that it’s not up to a citizen whether or not to submit to an arrest,” says Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney.

In a statement, Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s attorney, Derek Andrews, said the resolution resulted in a “fair and just” conclusion for his client. It also says both Mr. Andrews and his client still dispute the legality of Officer Pommer’s actions, and the original arrest; but acknowledged it would have been “safer and smarter” for Mr. Gaindarpersaud to not resist arrest.

They acknowledge the resistance was the “mistake” Mr. Gaindarpersaud made, and “wished” Officer Pommer had used other methods which could have avoided the incident.

The footage emerged just weeks after Mayor Gary McCarthy signed an executive order banning the use of knee-to neck holds by law enforcement. Protests were held outside the city’s Liberty Street-based police station, and an investigation into the officer’s conduct was launched by the police and the District Attorney’s office.

The Schenectady Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards filed an internal report with the Chief of Police after the investigation. As a result of the report, disciplinary charges were issued to Pommer and filed with the Public Safety Commissioner. According to the police department, the internal report will be publicly released once the disciplinary case is resolved.

The controversial incident happened in the months following the death of George Floyd, who was placed in a similar hold by a Milwaukee police officer. Floyd’s death led to nationwide calls for police reform and led to increased scrutiny of the use of knee-to-neck restraints.

The Schenectady County District Attorney’s full statement, and the resolution signed by both parties, can be viewed below.

You can see the full statement from Mr. Gaindarpersaud’s attorney, Derek Andrews, below.

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