WNYT.com

Attorney: Family of man injured during police chase wants outside investigation

Posted at: 09/03/2013 2:53 AM
Updated at: 09/03/2013 10:08 AM
By: Steve Flamisch

Darryl Mount Jr., 21, of Malta, in a coma at Albany Medical Center.
Darryl Mount Jr., 21, of Malta, in a coma at Albany Medical Center.
Photo: Facebook



SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A man who suffered severe head injuries while running from the police remained in critical condition Monday, while his family's attorney called for an outside investigation into what happened.

Darryl Mount Jr., 21, of Malta, lay in a coma at Albany Medical Center with bleeding and swelling in his brain, attorney Bill Montgomery told NewsChannel 13. He described Mount's injuries as "life-threatening."

"The family is very concerned about what did happen," Montgomery said. "They're hoping that there will be an independent investigation, one other than the one being conducted by the Saratoga (Springs) Police Department."

The sequence of events began at about 3:00 a.m. Saturday when police officers saw Mount shoving a woman's head into a brick wall near the corner of Broadway and Caroline St., Police Chief Gregory Veitch said. A foot pursuit ensued.

The officers chased Mount into an alley on the north side of the Washington Building, twice trying to stop him with a TASER but failing to make contact, Veitch said.

Mount then hopped over a railing and climbed onto un-lit construction scaffolding, Veitch said. The pursuing officers lost sight of him in the dark, he said.

That's when witnesses heard a thud and found Mount lying face-down on a walkway off Putnam St. Veitch said no one reported seeing the man fall, but he noted the possibility.

"It is about 19 to 20 feet from the scaffolding to the ground where Mr. Mount was found," Veitch said in a prepared narrative. "Falls from this height can result in very serious injuries."

Police are not in possession of any surveillance video that shows the area, Veitch said.

STORY QUESTIONED

Veitch said there is surveillance video of Mount's alleged assault on the woman at the corner of Broadway and Caroline St., but he declined to release it, citing the ongoing investigation and the potential for grand jury action.

Montgomery, the attorney representing Mount's family, questioned the police version of the story. To his knowledge, Mount was breaking-up a fight between his girlfriend and another woman when officers intervened.

"Our understanding is that there was not an assault or an attempted assault being committed by Darryl against his girlfriend," Montgomery said.

Mount's family is not alleging police brutality, he said, but they do want answers. Veitch contended his department's policy mandates an arrest in cases where a police officer observes domestic violence, regardless of whether the victim wants to press charges.

In addition to calling for an outside investigation of the police officers' actions, Montgomery said he was planning to file papers in Saratoga County Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking a court order to preserve police emails and text messages, radio communications, surveillance video, and other evidence in the case.

"With the way computer systems and police files are maintained in today's world, it's very easy to go back and delete information," Montgomery said, explaining his request for the court order. "It's very hard to discover once that's been done."

STILL ON DUTY

John Tighe, who writes the blog Saratoga in Decline, alleged "obvious racial undertones in this tragedy."

Tighe said the police department has changed its version of events, and he questioned why the chief has not released the names of the officers involved.

"The thin blue line is very well known for protecting their own," Tighe told NewsChannel 13. "I think the only way to get to the bottom of what happened is through an outside investigation."

Veitch said there is no evidence that any of his officers acted improperly. He said they all remain on duty.

"At this point, we don't believe a police officer did anything wrong," Veitch said. "There are no statements that we have, and no witnesses that are known to us, that are claiming the officers beat Mr. Mount."

Mount, who was on parole for a 2011 burglary conviction, will likely be charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest, Veitch said. Police were withholding charges until and unless Mount's condition improves.

"The most important thing to remember is that someone is in critical condition," Veitch said, "and we hope that he gets better."