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Scaringe Conversation Continues

The sidewalk shrine of candles and flowers at the intersection of State and Lark streets has been cleared away. Now, Center Square residents are awaiting answers—at this stage, mostly with patience—on the Albany Police Department’s investigation into the shooting death of David Scaringe.

Those answers may be weeks or months away. In the meantime, police administrators have been talking to neighborhood associations about the shooting on New Year’s Eve, when two Albany officers opened fire on a car whose driver fled a traffic stop and then barreled onto a sidewalk in Center Square. A bullet fired by Albany Officer Joseph Gerace hit 24-year-old Scaringe, a passerby who collapsed, bleeding to death in the crosswalk at State and Lark streets.

Jack Nielsen, Albany’s commissioner of public safety, and Police Chief Robert Wolfgang spoke to the Center Square Association Jan. 15.

“We want to be very clear that there is nothing about this that will not be open and honest, at least as far as we can be capable of,” Nielsen told about 60 residents.

Three days earlier, a group of Albany neighborhood organizations and representatives to the Albany Common Council and Albany County Legislature sent a letter to Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings urging the release of the findings.

Police don’t know yet if that will be possible, Nielsen said, because the shooting may be before a grand jury by the time the investigation is finished.

Questions from the audience mixed appreciation for the willingness of police to meet the public with tough inquiries about the actions taken that day. Wolfgang read aloud the policy that prohibits police from firing a gun from or at a moving vehicle “unless an occupant of the other vehicle is using deadly physical force against the officers or one another.” Police have not yet commented publicly on whether the officers under investigation properly followed that policy.

“I think that there’s a general appreciation that this was a terrible accident, and that they’re expecting the police to do a thorough investigation,” said Joe Cunin, executive director of the Lark Street Business Improvement District, who attended the meeting. “And it does appear that [police] are in that process, and I think that people got that impression from this meeting.”

—Darryl McGrath


No Heat, Few Consequences?

When the heat first went out at 85 Morris St. in Albany a little more than two weeks ago, the downstairs tenant went straight to her sister’s house. The upstairs tenants stuck it out, using an open oven for heat. But last Wednesday (Jan. 14) they finally complained to the codes department and threatened to call the media in an attempt to get the heat back on. A maintenance person did come by, but the heat went out again when pipes burst and a radiator exploded. The tenants contacted Channel 6, who ran their story Thursday (Jan. 15).

“We offered them relocation slips, since the heat was not up to standard,” said Valerie Scott, division supervisor of the Albany Buildings & Codes Department. “They refused those. The landlord was supposed to be working on it. On Friday, the fire department went in and said if the heat was not fixed immediately we would have no choice but to remove them, voluntarily or involuntarily, because of the method being used to heat.”

The heat was restored Friday night. On Saturday, according to the downstairs tenant, one of the upstairs tenants was taken to the hospital. The upstairs tenants could not be reached, so it is not known if the hospital visit was related to the prolonged period of cold.

The landlord was identified in news reports as Visions One Management Group, a division of Vision Real Estate Management & Development, Inc., located on Central Avenue. VRMD specializes “in the purchasing, rehabilitating and selling of foreclosed properties to private investment groups and individuals,” according to its Web site, which also says the company has “one goal, to make a new class of wealthy investors out of VRMD shareholders.” VRMD did not return repeated calls for comment.

Scott said that the department may pursue court action against the landlord because the violation was not fixed within the required 24 hours. She said, however, that in that process they would not be able to take into account any notification the tenants gave to the landlord previous to their complaint to the city.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

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