Albany, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Albany Police Chief, Eric Hawkins, announced on Friday that the legal termination process is underway after one of his officers made racially charged statements while on duty. The department has also released the body camera video that captured the moments the comments were made. Officer David Haupt, a four year veteran with the department, has been suspended without pay.
Chief Hawkins said the racially-biased conversation took place on November first as Officer Haupt and an Albany County Sheriff’s Deputy were fueling up the patrol car at the city’s Office of General Services gas pump. Deputies and APD officers have been working in tandem for the last several months in response to the ongoing violence. The deputy’s body camera was accidentally activated mid-conversation.
Deputy: “It literally, it does get old like, because literally, every day it’s not like, it’s not like, it’s an overwhelmingly fifty percent to fifty percent shot where you get a call and they’re like yeah white male, or, ya know what I mean?”
Officer Haupt: “My buddies listen to the scanner and they send me texts all the time and they go hey is the suspect ever a white male? and I go f****** no. It’s like, I know it sounds terrible to say, but I don’t give a f*** what anybody says. I sincerely don’t, because bro, they are the worst f****** race. You can’t deny like over the last X amount of months, they are, you know, they are getting worse and worse.”
Officer Haupt: “They’re getting worse and people are defending that? Are you f****** kidding me?”
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said the video clip was accidentally tagged as an arrest and picked up by a clerk at his office during a routine review of body camera surveillance. Cecilia Walsh with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office said the Sheriff’s Office turned the video over to the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for a legal opinion regarding Brady disclosure rules. “Upon review, it was determined that the conduct in fact did rise to the level of mandatory disclosure under Brady rules, and as such the information was forwarded to the command staff at the Albany Police Department. We appreciate their swift response to the matter. Our office will be reviewing cases involving the officer and will be notifying defense attorneys as appropriate,” said Walsh.
Chief Hawkins said he was sent a grainy version of the video late on the night of November 10th. He said he saw the full version on November 11th and was able to identify the officer and immediately suspended Officer Haupt without pay.
On Friday, he said the termination process was already underway. “Law enforcement leaders have an obligation to stand up and call it what it is and take the appropriate action and that’s what I did. This was without a doubt racist, hateful comments made made by a police officer. I have initiated the process of ensuring that that person never wears an Albany Police Department uniform ever again,” said Chief Hawkins.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan echoed those remarks and said she questions how Officer Haupt landed a job in the department in the first place. “This individual made a statement that, in my mind, can not be interpreted in any other way other than complete and utter disdain for the black and brown people in this community and I don’t think this is the right place for this individual to be working,” said Mayor Sheehan.
Mayor Sheehan said the deputy also made comments and said he should no longer be assigned to the tandem detail in the city. “From my perspective, that deputy is not the right fit and should be finding some other assignment within the sheriff’s department other than patrolling the streets of Albany,” said Mayor Sheehan.
Sheriff Apple said, as of Friday, his deputy is still actively working, but that his department is investigating. “Our deputy will be interviewed today (Friday). At this point though, I have no idea which way we’re going to go with it. His words pushed the envelope. You’ve got to speculate basically what the beginning of the conversation was or what the end of it was, so I can’t say much more about that until I speak to the deputy,” said Sheriff Apple.
Friday morning, the Albany Common Council released a statement calling for the immediate termination of Officer Haupt:
“The statements made by the officer are deplorable and he is not worthy of wearing the uniform of an Albany Police Officer. Officer David W. Haupt has dishonored his badge and now it is time for him to return it to the city. The Albany Common Council demands that Officer Haupt be immediately terminated from the Albany Police Department. We implore you to act now; any hesitation will further erode the public’s trust and the reputation of our police department. We understand that there is a process for dismissal of an officer; however, the sooner the process is started, the sooner the process of healing from this can begin. You have the opportunity to show that this does not represent our department. You cannot control the statements and actions of others, but you can control how you respond. We all have seen the protests and have heard the calls for justice around our country. Now it is time for Albany to stand up and show that this type of mentality will never be tolerated here. Officer Haupt’s statement is likely to have far reaching effects which may endanger the safety of his fellow officers. It is time for him to go.”