Mayor Shayne Gallo said he wants a more thorough investigation into the actions of Kingston cops in response to a December 2013 traffic accident involving an off-duty KPD detective. Gallo said this week he was spurred to request a more thorough accounting after reviewing the contents of an anonymous letter sent to state and federal officials back in December alleging that police conspired to cover up the circumstances of the crash.
KPD Detective Eric Van Allen was badly injured when he rolled his pickup truck on Route 32 in Rosendale around 1:45 a.m. on Dec. 8 2013. Van Allen was transported to Kingston Hospital, then airlifted to Albany Medical Center for treatment. The decorated cop made a full recovery and returned to duty. The Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, which handled the accident investigation, attributed the crash to black ice on the roadway and said that there was no indication that alcohol was a factor.
But in a letter dated Dec. 23 and addressed to the state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI an anonymous informant claiming to be a “Police Officer of many years experience” offered a detailed account of an alleged cover-up by law enforcement. The letter claimed that Van Allen had been drinking at a wedding attended by several members of local law enforcement prior to the crash. The letter also alleged that a high-ranking member of the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and five KPD officers turned up at the crash scene. One on-duty KPD supervisor, the letter alleged, “pretty much took over the scene” from sheriff’s deputies and, along with fellow Kingston officers, “interfered with the investigation into the cause of the accident.” The letter includes a list of 13 names, including Kingston police, members of the District Attorney’s Office, sheriff’s deputies and an FBI agent who were present at the crash scene, at the wedding or both.
Gallo said that he first learned of the letter from Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti at a January meeting of the Police Commission. According to Gallo, Tinti assured him that he had looked into the matter, spoken to the officers named in the letter and determined that nothing untoward had occurred. Gallo said that he did not read the letter until recently when, following a discussion with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, he requested a copy from Tinti.
This needs investigating, says mayor
Gallo said that he believed a more thorough accounting of the incident was warranted based of the level of detail and apparent familiarity of the letter writer with local law enforcement. Gallo added that he was especially perturbed by allegations that an on-duty Kingston police officer had helped secure the services of a defense attorney for Van Allen the morning of the crash.
“Given the allegations in the letter I don’t see any alternative but to assure the public that this is being thoroughly and transparently investigated,” said Gallo. “Given my own read on the letter and my discussion with the attorney general, I think it needs to be looked at carefully.”
Gallo said that he had requested that Tinti provide the Police Commission with a fuller accounting of the actions of KPD personnel the morning of the accident, including statements from three on-duty and two off-duty officers allegedly present at the scene. The internal investigation will run parallel to a separate probe being conducted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office.