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Friday, May 27, 2011

Jury Says Officer Liable in Guy Case

Jury says Albany officer liable in gun case
The Albany Times Union by Brendan Lyons - May 26, 2011
Verdict against Albany officer includes lost wages for co-worker

ALBANY, NY -- An Albany police sergeant who allegedly pointed a loaded handgun at a coworker was found liable for civil assault in a verdict returned late Wednesday during a trial in state Supreme Court. The verdict against Sgt. Kevin McKenna, a traffic safety supervisor, included roughly $18,000 that represented lost wages for the victim, Shirley Morton, who took an extended leave after the incident. The jury also assessed a $5,000 penalty in pain and suffering damages. McKenna returned to police duties last year after serving a 30-day suspension for departmental charges upheld by an arbitrator. Before that, he was acquitted of criminal menacing charges in Albany County Court. The civil complaint was initially filed in U.S. District Court against McKenna, the city of Albany, McKenna's former supervisor, Leonard Crouch, and Peter Noonan, whose personal handgun was used in the incident. It was dismissed in federal court with leave to re-file the case in state Supreme Court under state law. The allegations are that McKenna was handling a loaded, personal handgun that Noonan had brought to the police station. The incident took place during a snowstorm and the traffic safety office was bustling. Morton claimed McKenna, who she said had tormented her at times, pointed the gun at her head twice. She said McKenna leveled the gun at her a second time after Noonan warned him it was loaded. Mark Greenberg, Morton's attorney, re-filed the lawsuit in state court against McKenna, Noonan and the city of Albany. Noonan and the city were let out of the case and McKenna faced trial alone. "I do not feel that the monetary award was consistent with what Ms. Morton went through," Greenberg said. "I hope the verdict will bring a level of closure for Ms. Morton." McKenna's attorney, Paul DerOhannesian, also represented McKenna in his criminal case. "While I'm not totally satisfied there is some satisfaction in the verdict," DerOhannesian said. "It certainly now allows him to move forward with his job and career." Morton left her employment with the police department. In the internal investigation McKenna was found guilty of two charges -- improper handling of a firearm and conduct unbecoming an officer -- for the Jan. 2, 2008, incident at the department's Public Safety Building. He did not work for two years during the proceeding.

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