Thursday, December 03, 2009

Officer Robert Cahill Suspended after Assault Charge

A charge against a police officer convicted of attempted third-degree assault was conditionally discharged, but the officer has been suspended by the town for six months without pay.

Robert D. Cahill was found innocent of one count of misdemeanor assault during a September trial that involved video evidence, but the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of attempted third-degree assault, also a misdemeanor.

Cahill's attorney, Jon Blechman, argued his client was acting in self-defense when he punched Patrick DiNottia on Nov. 26, 2008, at Giblin's, a popular Johnson City hangout frequented by police and firefighters.

Maine Justice Donald Magill this week followed the recommendation of the Broome County probation office's pre-sentence investigation for a conditional discharge. Cahill will be responsible for $205 in court fees.

Blechman said Cahill's discharge could be revoked if his client is convicted of a crime in the course of the year.

Vestal Supervisor Peter Andreasen said the town board decided to suspend Cahill shortly after the trial ended. Cahill has already gone two months without pay and has about four months remaining in his suspension, said Andreasen.

"He understands he has to stay out of trouble," said Andreasen.

DiNottia couldn't be reached for comment, but his parents weren't pleased with the sentencing.

"It is my understanding the tape is very detailed about what occurred, and the public needs to see that tape and make their opinions whether the sentencing was fair or not," said his mother, Janet DiNottia, referring to a video taken during the altercation.

His father, also named Patrick, added: "The tape is very clear as to what happened. Three approached one. He hit my son ... The officers then take off."

Blechman said the jury thoroughly reviewed that tape and found Cahill didn't cause any injuries to the victim, if there were even injuries suffered.

"The jury took a look at the facts," he said. "The fact is if he was above the law, there would never have been a trial and the case wouldn't have occurred."

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