Mayor wants Van Allen probe

Mayor Shayne Gallo. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

Mayor Shayne Gallo. (Photo: Phyllis McCabe)

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.

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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.”

KPD Chief Egidio Tinti. (Photo by Dan Barton)

KPD Chief Egidio Tinti. (Photo by Dan Barton)

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.

There are 11 comments

  1. citizen K

    This is very unfortunate for everyone, there’ll be no winners here. “Say in ain’t so, Joe!”
    However, as Louis CK might say….”but maybe…..”

    I’m gonna wonder at the gender and racial mix of the people involved… I’m thinking “white males”

  2. kim

    I have no faith in the Kingston police dept at all !!!! They all cover up for each other and I think they have more dirty cops then good!!!

  3. Tim

    I’m not clear how transparency can be invoked when the “Kingston city” police took over an accident scene in another jurisdiction, and then conducted their own interal investigation, and ultimately found no wrong doing . OF COURSE ! They wouldn’t

  4. Rainier Parade

    This letter was sent ten months ago. The incident involved a member of the Kingston Police Department. So, how is it the mayor got around to reading this letter only recently, when he knew full well of its existence? This is a gross dereliction of duty on Gallo’s part. And what on earth was an FBI agent doing at the scene, an incident in which he would have had zero jurisdiction? Because this FBI agent was very likely a personal friend of the folks at the party, and he happened to already be there. Did this agent exert any of his authority during this alleged cover-up? If so, I’m sure the folks at Quantico would want to know about it. But this is all beside the point. Gallo is asleep at the switch and has no idea how to supervise KPD properly. We need new leadership in Kingston.

  5. Elizabeth Arnott

    It’s done and over with thank god no one was killed why don’t you worrie about something else like finding missing people.

  6. Jack Lawson

    Clearly a coverup. KPS should have had nothing to do with leading the investigation as it was not even in their jurisdiction ANd they are not even police officers outsise of their jurisdiction unless they witness a crime. There needs to be legislation traffic accidents a police officer be investigated by another department that has no direct interest in the investigation

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