The December 17 edition of Saratoga Today included an interview with in-coming Commissioner of Public Safety James Montagnino. I congratulate Mr. Montagnino on his victory but I feel compelled to comment on some of his responses in the interview.
When asked why he ran for that office, he responded that the one thing that motivated him was the Darryl Mount Case and how it was treated, “How nobody in authority did anything that you would have hoped.” When asked if he would advocate for an investigation, either internal or external, at this point, he stated that ‘had there been an Internal Investigation done in a timely fashion where a report and the evidence upon which it was based were released to the public, depending on its thoroughness, I might say: We’re done. But, with all that’s happened, I can understand how many people have drawn the conclusion that there must be something to hide.”
As the person who in August 2013 was in authority at the time of Darryl Mount’s tragic injury, I feel that it is important to point out that, immediately after the incident, a thorough investigation took place. Saratoga Springs Police Department investigators dealt with the criminal investigation of the domestic violence which initiated the pursuit of Darryl Mount. Due to the irresponsible rhetoric of a local blogger who had no direct knowledge of the incident but insinuated on his blog that police officers caused Darryl’s injury in an alley, the investigators also focused on finding any evidence or inconsistency that might support the blogger’s contention. Many interviews were conducted. There were pages of documents and views from surveillance cameras which were produced but there has been no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of those officers that night. In fact, after the less than six-minute chase, when Darryl was found at the base of construction scaffolding, the officers assessed his injuries and immediately summoned the fire/EMS department to initiate emergency care.
Darryl sadly passed away in the Spring of 2014. The information from the criminal investigation was then released in June, 2014 when the Public Safety department held a press conference. There, all the evidence was released, with the exception of video of the act of physical domestic violence. Documents and videos from that June 20 press conference were subsequently made available on the City website. There was full transparency regarding the Darryl Mount incident. Nothing has been hidden.
Context is important. Family members and the local blogger insisted that there should be an outside investigation of the Darryl Mount incident. While I felt that the very thorough investigation conducted by our department was more than adequate, both Police Chief Veitch and I insisted that there would be full cooperation should an outside agency decide to conduct their own investigation. The family never asked for a formal Internal Investigation by our department. That term is reserved for situations where there is evidence of or charges by actual witnesses of wrongdoing on the part of the police. While I created some confusion when I unfortunately used the term ‘internal’ loosely when being pressed by Saratogian reporter Catilyn Morris about why I was not calling for an outside investigation, it was never anyone’s intention to misinform the public or the press about a formal ‘Internal Investigation’.
Saratogians in general and Commissioner-elect Montagnino in particular need to know that the Saratoga Springs Police Department and the Department of Public Safety acted responsibly regarding the Darryl Mount tragedy. Despite the terrible rhetoric that I have recently heard, residents and visitors should understand that we continue to have a great police department serving our City.
- Christian E Mathiesen (former Commissioner of Public Safety)