A video posted online that appeared to show a Saratoga County sheriff’s officer slap a person he had stopped has led to suspension of the officer and a criminal investigation, police said early Saturday.
The video shows the officer, Sgt. Shawn Glans, cursing at the person he was speaking with, and the sound of what the videotaper alleges was a slap can be heard. Officers had spotted a rifle in the back of the parked car, according to the video.
The incident took place during an interview early Friday at the Route 9 Walmart in Halfmoon, according to Post-Star media partners WNYT-TV Newschannel 13. Deputies responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle, and found a car in a business’s parking lot with the rifle in the back seat.
Glans and another officer questioned two young men who they saw walk to the car, and a confrontation ensued when the owner refused to give police access to the vehicle.
“It is disturbing,” Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said of the situation Saturday. “The minute we heard about it, we began an investigation. We’re going to be upfront about it and deal with it.”
The one-minute, 25-second video begins when, it appears, a male individual starts recording as Glans is demanding to search the unidentified person’s vehicle.
“Ok, then it shouldn’t be an issue for us to look,” said Glans.
“But it is. It’s just not right that you just want to search my car,” the person said to the officer.
The end of his sentence was interrupted by Glans, who said, “We’ll get a (expletive) search warrant.”
The person said OK, and Glans asked if that’s what he wanted to do.
“If that’s the route you want to take, but there’s no reason you have to search my car. There’s just no need for it,” said the person. He then said he was not in his car and asked Glans why he wouldn’t want to search his house.
Glans sighed, “(Expletive) idiot.” Glans turned away briefly, turned back and said, ”Let me see your (expletive) keys.”
As the person asked why and said, “You can’t do that,” the camera angle tilted down slightly.
Glans’ face was then not visible, but his lower torso remained in the shot. He is seen raising his arms while asking, “You want to (expletive) resist?”
Glans’ body moved, aligning with a loud slap that is heard, and again asked, “You want to (expletive) resist?”
Keys can be heard as they are apparently tossed. “Search the (expletive) car,” Glans said.
The camera angle returned to show Glans’ face. His breathing appeared slightly labored.
“I really don’t want to stand out here in the middle of the (expletive) rain, said Glans.
“Neither do I,” said the person.
“So if you have nothing to hide in there, we’re just going to check and be on our (expletive) merry way,” Glans said. The person could be heard saying, all right during that exchange.
“Understand, (expletive)?” Glans asked, while pointing at the person.
The camera operator commented, “That was intense.”
“You like that, eh,” asked Glans. “I can get a lot more intense.”
When a comment was made, “Can you slap me around?” Glans replied, “I’ll rip off your (expletive) head and (expletive) down your neck.”
The camera next turned toward the operator, who looked at the camera and said, “Oh my god.” The video ends a moment after.
Glans has been suspended without pay pending a police investigation and disciplinary action of Glans’ conduct, which began after the video was posted on the Internet. Zurlo said a person who saw the video online contacted the Sheriff’s Office on Friday night.
No criminal complaint or charges have been filed,
but Zurlo said the investigation was ongoing and interviews were being conducted Saturday. He said a decision on a possible criminal prosecution is likely in a day or two.
A slap without an injury could lead to a second-degree harassment charge, which is a non-criminal violation.
“The Sheriff’s Office takes matters such as this very seriously, and we do not in any way condone anything less than professional behavior from our members,” Chief Deputy Richard Castle wrote in a news release. “We wish to thank the members of the community who brought this to light and cooperated fully with the investigation.”
The internal personnel investigation is ongoing.
Neither the other deputy nor civilian were identified in the release, which also stated no additional information will be released until the investigation is concluded. Zurlo said the Sheriff’s Office is not releasing the officer’s name because personnel issues are not public, but he acknowledged the officer is a sergeant.
Glans also works part-time for South Glens Falls Police Department.
Glans, according to a Daily Gazette article, was found responsible for a March 1996 on-duty vehicle accident that left a man paralyzed and blind. Saratoga County and the town of Wilton settled a lawsuit with the man for an undisclosed amount after a $60 million suit was filed.
Here is a link to the video that led to the officer's suspension. Be advised it includes language that may be offensive to some.