Ex-student accuses Troy cops of excessive force

Isaac Bertos is sworn in as a Troy police officer July, 14, 2009, at City hall in Troy, N.Y.  (Skip Dickstein / Times Union archive) Photo: SKIP DICKSTEIN / 2008Times Union – by Bob Gardinier

Troy – Another notice of a pending lawsuit was filed against the city, this time by a former college student who claims police officers slammed him against a truck, punched him and used a Taser on him for jaywalking.

One of the officers was named in two other cases in which defendants claim use of excessive force.  

The most recent incident happened Oct. 16, when Archie Davis, who was attending Hudson Valley Community College at the time and was a defensive back for the school’s football team, and three of his friends were walking in the city, according to Davis’ lawyer, Terry Kindlon.

According to a police report, Officer Isaac Bertos stopped Davis and his friends as they walked down the middle of Adams Street. Bertos advised them to use the sidewalk and alleged that they were jaywalking. The officer reported the men “began using vulgar language,” and called for Officer Dominick Comitale‘s assistance. While the others complied, police allege Davis became combative and resisted arrest.

Davis was thrown to the ground, punched in the ribs and eye and subdued with a Taser, Kindlon said.

The pending federal lawsuit claims Davis was “unlawfully seized” and the officers used “excessive force,” Kindlon said.

Bertos was named in two other cases claiming excessive force.

Robert Washington, 47, was acquitted by a jury last week of felony charges for allegedly punching Bertos in the chin and resisting arrest during a July 4 incident on Third Street.

Washington’s attorney, Lucas Mihuta, claimed at trial that Bertos incited the incident, during which the officer confronted the defendant on the street. Washington allegedly became combative and resisted arrest, fought with Bertos and threw a can of beer at the officer, prosecutors claimed at trial. A Taser was used on him.

Mihuta said Washington is conferring with a civil rights lawyer who is poised to file a claim against the city on his behalf.

In a third, unrelated case that came up during the Washington trial, Mihuta secured a copy of a convenience store security video of a March arrest by Bertos. Mihuta claims the video shows Bertos throwing or pushing Jordan Novak, 19, into the side of a car outside a South End bodega.

Novak’s head dented the rear quarter panel, Mihuta said. Novak faces misdemeanor charges in city court for damaging the vehicle.

Novak filed a notice of claim against the city.

Kindlon said Davis was arrested without probable cause and without proper investigation.

Last week, Police Chief John Tedesco said the city would review legal cases involving the police department to see if patterns of behavior by officers can be determined.

“There’s some things we’re going to take a very hard look at,” Tedesco told the Times Union.

The cases surface at a time when the department is under fire from citizens groups over a Jan. 25 brawl at Kokopellis nightclub on Fourth Street in which customers and club owners allege city officers used excessive force. Surveillance and cellphone videos show the melee inside and outside the bar. Seven people face charges in the case. Bertos was not involved in the bar melee.

“There seems to be something going on with all these claims,” Kindlon said. “Our office is getting an alarming frequency of calls from alleged victims, not that all of the cases are worth pursuing.”

City officials declined comment, citing pending litigation.

bgardinier@timesunion.com • 518-454-5696 • @BobGardinier


4 thoughts on “Ex-student accuses Troy cops of excessive force

  1. Thanks GrinNBarrett,if you hadn’t said Troy was in NY i wouldn’t have known where this happened.There is probably twenty states that have a town called Troy. Tn. has a Troy.I agree with the article,local police are getting completely out of control.The DHS and other agencies are directly responsible for this situation.

    1. YW but the giveaway was the Hudson River its famous you know:

      First Steamboat by Fulton went up that river. But even more interesting is this:

      In the midst of this cold, cold winter, we are warmed by the memory of Pete Seeger and his music. Pete instilled in all of us a love of the Hudson River that will never die. He passed it on to us and to generations of children who will always understand and cherish it because of trips on the Clearwater and the songs they learned to sing with heart and soul. Thank you, Pete. Your spirit will be here with the people of this Valley as long as the river flows both ways.

      The river wasn’t actually spelled out but Hudson Valley Community College was. Both the College and the river were named after Henry Hudson who formed the East India Company which settled many of the first settlers to the area.

  2. What’s most important about these police brutality articles is the fact that this has become a nation-wide problem in a short period of time, is evidence that brutalizing the population is OFFICIAL POLICY.

    In the past we’ve heard about incidents like this a few times per year, and now there’s a new one every day. A judge might settle these cases by tossing someone some money, but since U.S. dollars are reaching Zimbabwe dollar status, who cares?

    Toss ’em a fistful of counterfeit FRNs and let the the cop get back to the business of beating the crap out of people for no valid reason. They probably print up the legal settlement cash right in the judge’s chambers.

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