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Minding his business: Nuridden Rashed’s store 16 Barz.

Photo: Alicia Solsman

Unnecessary Roughness

Central Avenue business owners are left shocked and angered after a local man is violently arrested by an Albany police officer

Nuridden Rashed stood in front of an Albany Police Department car in the middle of Central Avenue in Albany near Bricks Barbershop on Jan. 6, around 2 PM. Officer Mike Geraci hopped into his police cruiser and took his foot off the brake. The car rolled toward Rashed. Bystanders who had gathered on both sides of the street, drawn by the men’s shouting, gasped. Rashed looked shocked. His eyes widened in apparent disbelief. Geraci quickly put his foot back on the break. “Get the fuck out of the street!” Geraci shouted before loudly sounding his vehicle’s horn.

Shopkeepers and pedestrians, who had been paying slight attention before, were now transfixed. They wore expressions of bewilderment. A reporter from Metroland witnessed the scene as it continued to escalate.

Angered that Geraci rolled his car toward him, Rashed lashed out, “Fucking pigs!” Geraci and two other officers who had arrived on the scene rushed toward Rashed, forced him up against the window of his own store, 16 Barz, and handcuffed him. Rashed repeatedly asked what he was being charged with. No one answered.

“They were trying to put me through the glass!” Rashed later claimed.

This was not what Rashed expected when he asked a parking enforcement officer to call her supervisor when she tried to ticket him for being double-parked in front of his business. As far as Rashed understood it, business owners are allowed to double park in front of their businesses for 15 minutes to load and unload vehicles.

Only minutes later, Geraci stopped his cruiser and jumped out of his car. Rashed said he tried to talk to Geraci, but was told, “Get away from my car.” Geraci conversed with the parking employee instead, and then Geraci told Rashed to “stop intimidating” her. Rashed then asked Geraci what the law was pertaining to the situation. Geraci told him to “take your ass down [to traffic safety]” to ask them, before jumping in his cruiser.

Spectators from Bricks Barber Shop grew increasingly concerned, as the officers became more hostile. Deryl McCray, a co-owner of the barber shop, watched along with a number of barbers and customers.

They watched as Rashed’s wife, Courtney Dayton, tried to take the keys to Rashed’s business out of his hands so she could lock the store.

“Hold up!” a spectator shouted as the police shoved her away, shouting, “Back the fuck up!”

One man held up his camera to film the incident. “Put that fucking camera down!” shouted an officer. “Get off the fucking sidewalk,” Geraci yelled.

McCray told the officer, “I know my rights. This is my business. I can be on the sidewalk in front of my business.”

“I don’t care what you know!” Geraci responded.

McCray demanded Geraci’s badge number. He said that Geraci provided it, but said to him, “You sure you can spell? You don’t look like you can spell.”

McCray was asked repeatedly if he was “a tough guy.” Barber Henry Grant was told by an officer, “Get your 500-pound ass back inside.”

One spectator openly wondered what might have occurred had the incident not taken place in daylight.

McCray has filed a complaint with the APDs internal-affairs office about the incident. McCray said he and Rashed actually had worked together in the past to improve community relations with the Albany Police Department. Both men had previously met with Chief James Tuffey to work on preventing youth gang violence.

“I appreciate the presence of the APD,” said McCray. “I don’t want to start a beef with the APD. They do a good job, but they have some bad apples.”

McCray said that actions of Geraci—what he calls Geraci’s lack of respect—hurts relations between the APD and the community.

“I am willing to do whatever it takes to improve relations between the police department and the community,” said McCray. “I am willing to be a conduit between the APD and the community.”

McCray said he hopes that by reporting the incident, he may be able to work with the APD to achieve a better relationship.

Rashed eventually was charged with two counts of resisting arrest and one charge of disorderly conduct. He was released after paying $700 bail.

The charges allege that Rashed called the officers “white racist pigs.” Rashed denied the “white racist” part. He said he knows it was stupid to call the officers “pigs,” but that it was his way of reacting to being treated the way he was. The charges also allege Rashed “struggled” with officers. Rashed and a number of bystanders who witnessed the event disagree. Rashed said he told the officers he was holding his cell phone and keys to his store and wanted someone to take them from him rather than having to drop them.

The APD did not comment other than to confirm Rashed’s charges.

Rashed said APD officers frequent his shop, and he is friendly with a number of them. Rashed, who has hosted gang prevention get-togethers for youth from uptown and downtown in his shop, said he is torn about whether to stay in Albany to continue that work—work that got him a meeting with Tuffey—or to just move. However, Rashed planned to file a complaint with internal affairs and perhaps the Albany Citizen’s Police Review Board. He said he would like an apology from the officers, despite his fear that filing a complaint will attract more negative attention from the APD.

“I’m starting to freak out,” he said. “I don’t want to live in fear in Albany.”

—David King


What a Week

Changing Courses

Prosecution of the teenager accused of shooting the bullet that struck and killed 10-year-old Kathina Thomas morphed this week. Lacking possession of the alleged murder weapon, the prosecution’s case against Jermayne Timmons hinged significantly upon the testimony of eyewitnesses. One key witness, whose name has been withheld in accordance with the Albany County district attorney’s request, recanted the statement he made in May that he saw Timmons shoot “up First Street,” now claiming that he only said that because his father told him to. However, Timmons had admitted on the stand that he did shoot a gun that day, just not the caliber of gun involved in Thomas’ death. The judge, in response, allowed the prosecution to include an attempted murder charge for the jury to consider. As of Wednesday afternoon, the jury was still deliberating.

Uh-oh

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sent Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian a letter asking for its money back. According to a Record article, based on information received from a Freedom of Information request, HUD took issue with Troy’s use of funds awarded through Community Development Block Grants, and now is seeking nearly $470,000 in refunds. The letter stated that “the city must reimburse its CDBG account with $152,172 for ineligible street improvement costs and $125,615 for unsupported housing rehabilitation expenses, in addition to other, smaller projects, because the city either did not provide HUD with adequate documentation or did not follow established guidelines.” Deputy Mayor Dan Crawley tried to assure the Record that this would have little noticeable impact on the city’s budget. “Hopefully we’re running way in the black for 2009, so it really won’t have an affect on the taxpayers at all,” said Crawley.

Stop Us if You’ve Heard This One

An off-duty Albany police officer allegedly crashed into a parked car over the weekend and then left the scene of the crime. When the police went to the home of Det. George McNally, he refused to take a Breathalyzer and was arrested. Albany Police Chief James Tuffey was reported as saying, “I am extremely disappointed with the arrest of one of our members for allegedly being involved in a alcohol-related accident,” which made it sound like the chief was more upset with the arrest then the actual alleged crime. McNally has joined a long list of Albany cops who have gotten into trouble with drinking and driving.







Loose Ends

-no loose ends this week-



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