Thanks to a video leak that exposed a Saratoga County Sheriff Sergeant’s hostile encounter with two young men in Halfmoon on Friday, Sergeant Sean R. Glans, a 27 year veteran of the force, has resigned from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department. Originally Glans was suspended without pay pending an investigation, but news of his resignation came Monday after he was criminally charged with official misconduct and harassment. Glans was arraigned Monday afternoon in Halfmoon Town Court, and was released without bail.
The encounter which was captured on a cell phone video recorded by one of the two men involved in the confrontation with Glans, exposes an expletive-laced interaction that became heated when Glans’ demands to search their unattended vehicle allegedly containing a .22 caliber rifle was challenged. According to Glans, he confronted the pair after they walked out of nearby woods to their vehicle which was parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Although Glans stated that the two men were wearing dark clothing and acting suspiciously, he admits that they had not broken any laws at the time he demanded to search their vehicle.
In an interview with News Channel 13, Colin Fitch, one of the two men approached by the deputy, reported that two deputies approached him and his friend and inquired about the rifle in the back seat of Fitch’s vehicle. Fitch reportedly acknowledged the rifle and indicated that he used it for target shooting. Glans, who admittedly was unaware that he was being recorded by Fitch’s friend, became angered when his demands to search Fitch’s vehicle were refused. The video depicts Glans becoming increasingly frustrated and demanding Fitch’s car keys while stating that the man’s car would be searched. In the clip, an off-camera slap is heard as Fitch tells Glans that he is not resisting arrest. After the alleged slap, Fitch’s friend is heard stating to Glans, “that was intense,” followed by the friend’s inquiry as to whether Glans would strike him next. The video’s audio next reveals the officer’s response to the friend that he would “rip [his] (expletive) head off and (expletive) down [his] neck.” The officer further responds, “You like that, huh? I can get a lot more intense.”
When reached for comment on Saturday, Glans indicated that there was more to the encounter than what was captured by the video. Glans told the Times Union that, “I am all about doing the right thing. I had to go to that point because of the factors that came into play. There was a gun that was involved [that] I spotted in the vehicle.” When asked if he would have handled the matter the same way if he could do it again, Glans said he would, but not if he knew it was being filmed. “I was concerned. It was a public safety issue,” the Sergeant said. “If I had to do it all over again…I’d probably do the same thing. If I knew the camera was there, no, because it does look bad.”
Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo was also reached for comment on and admits that he “was very disturbed” by what he saw on the video. He further stated that he “does not condone the activity as it’s portrayed and that the department would be handling the matter quickly and swiftly.
Apparently, this incident is not the first time that Saratoga County has had to deal with the ramifications of Glans’ conduct. According to the Times Union article, in 1999, the town of Wilton and Saratoga County paid $6 million to settle a $60 million lawsuit filed by the family of a 45 year-old man who was left permanently paralyzed when Glans drove his patrol car head-on into the man’s vehicle. Douglas H. McEachron suffered critical brain injuries and a federal jury found Glans was negligent in the crash.
Citizen encounters with police have come under increased scrutiny since the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Alice Green, the executive director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, says that young people who come into contact with police officers on the street, in their cars, and sometimes in their homes need to know and understand their rights. Because many times, police-citizen contact can escalate if the person does not know how to manage that contact with police, the Center’s program, geared toward young people, helps to teach the young public and their families about what the police legally can do, and how one should respond to contact with an officer.
If you have been stopped and questioned by police and you feel your rights have been violated, contact the Rosenblum Law Firm at 888-815-3649 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.