Prosecutors in upstate New York say a white police officer made a false report of a gunfight against a group of Black juveniles while he was off duty last summer, the Associated Press reports.
Sean McKown, a 19-year-veteran of the Cohoes, N.Y., police department, faced four misdemeanor charges last week including the false report of an incident and shooting a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said in a press release.
“The charges filed stem from allegedly false reports of an incident (which did not occur) that were allegedly made to 911 by Sean McKown,” Sprague said in a statement. “The discharging of the firearm charge was also allegedly shots fired within 500 feet of a dwelling by Sean McKown, with no specific dwelling or victim named.”
The incident occured in June 2020 in Elizabethtown, N.Y., when McKown called 911 saying a group of Black youths had harassed him near his Adirondacks lakes residence, resulting in a gunfire exchange between him and one of the individuals in the group. But when officials investigated, they discovered that McKown had been the only person to fire a weapon. The incident occured after McKown had been asleep at home after a night of drinking, the AP reported, and there wasn’t any evidence that anyone fired at him.
McKown pleaded not guilty and was released without bail after he was arraigned. He has an expected court date in February 2021, according to his lawyer George LaMarche. Rather than facing internal discipline, he was allowed to retire from the Cohoes police force.
He later admitted that his story was false, according to the Albany Times-Union. He admitted that he had fired his department-issued weapon into a tree stump and threw it away. State troopers said they found McKown’s stories “inconsistent” and never believed him. To be clear, the story was concocted. There was no group of Black youths or anyone else confronting him or shooting at him.
State police said they closed their investigation without filing charges, but under pressure from local activists who sent a petition to Sprague’s office, the case was reopened.
“I am encouraged by this, but it is only one brick in a much larger house that still needs to be built in this country, to treat Black Americans equally and to create a justice system that works for everyone,” Nicole Hylton-Patterson, director of the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, said in a statement, according to the AP.
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