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Albany Police Officer Arrested

Brendan Cox
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

An Albany police officer has been arrested after he was caught on camera body-slamming a 15-year-old girl at a rehab facility.

Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox says on July 26th, Officer Ervis Miftari was called to St. Anne Institute, a rehabilitation center for troubled girls, to help with one of the residents, who was breaking things and had assaulted a staff member.

Shortly after arriving there, Miftari and his partner John Schueler wrote a police report. The girl was placed in a room equipped with a video camera.  Chief Cox says that's when things got out of hand.   "At one point, Officer Miftari enters the room and engages the 15-year-old female in a physical confrontation, grabbing her and pushing her. He then exits the room, and about 30 seconds later, he enters the room again and takes that female to the ground, holds her there for a time period I would estimate at 30 seconds, then lets her get back up. They have a discussion and he leaves the room. This was not an incident where the use of force had anything to do with an arrest. It was not an incident where the use of force had anything to do with keeping somebody safe. It was a use of force that should not have happened. It's not acceptable for us to do that. It's not acceptable for any police officer or police department to allow that to occur. So after doing an investigation, it was determined that we would arrest him."

Cox says the school notified Albany Police on August 4th. Miftari was arrested and arraigned Wednesday morning after turning himself in. The 29-year-old officer was charged with misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child and second degree harassment, a violation.  Cox adds the girl was not injured in the incident.

Because he never intervened to stop Miftari from using force, Cox says Officer Schueler is on administrative duty, not charged with any crime.   "Neither officer has a history of any misbehavior."

Derrick Hogan is a senior associate with the law firm of Tully Rinckey.    "With today's current climate, and the interaction between law enforcement and individuals, whether it's a young kid or an adult, these officers have to be cognizant of, you know, their training in how to handle these situations, even this officer with an impeccable record, I mean, You know, he's gotta know that somebody's watching. There's gonna be a camera somewhere, and he has to use his best judgment. In turn, obviously the police department has to have a quick reaction and from everything I know he's gonna be disciplined and potentially be fired, so then they have to have a reaction to that."

Cox, citing the “emotional needs” of the teenage victim, said he would not release the video. Since then, the girl’s mother has gone public, appearing on camera and sharing photos of her daughter with the media.

Alice Green with the Center For Law and Justice in Albany thinks Chief Cox handled the incident appropriately. Pressing on, Cox will tweak the officers’ training program.  "We are also looking at our training for use of force and de-escalization as there's been a number of different policy groups and think tanks that have tried to figure out how we can do a better job in de-escalating situations, and that's across the country. So we are reviewing that, we have a committee that's gonna make some recommendations, we work with a number of people in the community and will certainly talk to them about it."

Officer Miftari's fate is not clear at this time.  His attorney, Steve Coffey, told NewsChannel 13 "this case is going nowhere." Miftari is due back in court in mid-September.

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