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Saratoga County Sheriff's Sgt. Resigns, Charged With Misconduct After Video Goes Viral


An upstate New York sheriff's sergeant is suspended after he was caught on video allegedly slapping a young man who did not want his car searched. The video has gone viral nationwide.

UPDATE:   Sergeant Glans has resigned from the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department, after being formally charged with official misconduct and harrasment. Glans was arraigned this afternoon in Halfmoon Town Court and released without bail.

Sergeant Sean Glans was admittedly caught on camera when a man refused to allow the deputy to search his car.  Reports indicate Glans approached two men he said walked out of the woods to their vehicle, which was in the parking lot of a business near the Wal-Mart in Halfmoon Friday afternoon. Glans says he noticed a .22-caliber rifle on the back seat and then saw the pair, who were wearing dark clothes and acting suspiciously. The altercation was recorded by one of the two who videoed the encounter.

"We'll be on our merry way. Understand?"

In the clip, an off-camera slap is heard as Colin Fitch tells Glans he is not resisting arrest.  Fitch spoke about the incident with NewsChannel 13:    "We were walkin' around Wal-Mart for about 20 minutes or so, then the two sheriff deputies approached us, they asked us our names, we told them our names."

Fitch acknowledged Glans inquired about the weapon in his vehicle.   "I said yeah, I have do a rifle in my back seat. I use it for target shooting. I don't hunt or anything."

Glans, unaware he was being filmed, threatened Fitch's passenger.    "That was intense. You like that, huh? I can get a lot more intense. You gonna slap me around? Yeah, I'll slap your (expletive) head off."

Glans tells the Times Union had he known he was being filmed, he would have behaved differently.

Here is the quote :   "I was concerned. It was a public safety issue," the sergeant said. "If I had to do it all over again ... I'd probably do the same thing. If I knew the camera was there, no, because it does look bad."

Sheriff Michael Zurlo on Saturday told theTimes Union he was "very disturbed" by the images he saw.  Glans told NewsChannel 13 that there's more to the story than that small clip of video and said he would explain his side "later."

"Justice and Development Campaign" has put an online petitionat change-dot-org  asking Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen to arrest Glans.    As of 11:30 a.m., more than 1,300 people digitally signed the petition. Sheriff Zurlo did not return a call for comment to WAMC.

Melanie Trimble is the chapter director for the New York Civil Liberties Union Capital Region Chapter.    "The video clearly shows a police officer out of control. The Saratoga Springs police department has done the right thing by suspending the officer without pay. We encourage the department to conduct a thorough investigation into all officers behavior to ensure that they are conducting themselves in a professional manner when dealing with all New Yorkers."

Glans reportedly has been in a tight spot before. In 1996, he was the subject of a $60 million lawsuit filed against both the county and the town of Wilton after he lost control of his patrol car and collided with another car. It was determined that Glans was driving three times the local speed limit, more than 60 miles an hour, at the time of the crash. Douglas McEachron, a father of six, suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost his sight. A $6 million settlement was paid to his family. A jury found Glans to be negligent, but he was not required to pay any part of the settlement.

In an odd twist, Albany-area television station CBS6 as of Monday morning begun blurring Glans' face in the video. A station spokeswoman says the parent company in Maryland ordered the faces in the video blurred out.  A call to Sinclair Broadcast Group's legal department was not returned.

Citizen clashes with police have come under increased scrutiny thanks to Ferguson. Alice Green, executive director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, says young people who come in contact with police officers on the street, in cars, and sometimes in their homes, need to understand what their rights are.  "Because many times, especially with young people, those contacts can escalate if the person does not know how to manage that contact with the police. So our program is geared towards young people, but we're also encouraging parents and others to be involved in learning exactly what the police can legally do, and how you should respond to contact with a police officer. We have a new DVD that we're showing which looks at 10 ways to handle a situation with police so that contact does not end in an arrest or any type of confrontation where the citizen always loses."

  • For more information about the program "Legal Rights For Young People" call 518.427.8361

Glans graduated from Saranac Lake High School in 1984, served in the Marine Corps and worked for the Saranac Lake village police from 1988 until 1995.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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