UTICA — Utica Police Sgt. Samuel Geddes used a series of expletives and profanities while arguing with a woman and a teenager on Blandina Street, leading to his suspension and possible firing, based on body camera footage of the incident.
The footage was released by the City of Utica Friday afternoon. Geddes is an 19-year veteran of the department. City officials said they are seeking to terminate Geddes’ employment contract, and he is now suspended without pay following the Aug. 23 incident.
While the woman’s “remarks were egregious and derogatory, the Utica Police Department does not tolerate or condone Sergeant Geddes’ language or conduct,” the city said in a statement.
“Utica Police Officers receive extensive de-escalation training, and there is an expectation, especially for supervisors, to act in a professional and respectful manner at all times.”
According to authorities, Geddes responded to a dispute between a man and a woman regarding a stolen necklace at about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 23 in the 900 block of Blandina St. Authorities said Geddes allowed the woman to go back into her home to retrieve the necklace, and she instead went to a second-floor balcony and threw down what the man claimed was not his necklace.
The woman and a teenage male on the balcony then began shouting vulgar and homophobic comments at Geddes and another officer on the scene.
In the body worn camera footage, Geddes can be seen returning to his patrol car, telling the woman and the teen that he is going to go back to the police station to file a robbery report. Something the teen said in response prompted Geddes to go back to the street.
“Shut the (expletive) up, you little (expletive),” Geddes can be heard saying in the footage. As the homophobic comments continued from the balcony, Geddes can be heard responding with a sarcastic remark about oral sex.
In the video, Geddes retrieves a can of pepper spray from his patrol car and sprays it towards the balcony. City officials said the spray did not come into contact with anyone, but one teenager on the scene was later treated for exposure to the pepper spray.
The teen male on the balcony continued to threaten Geddes, to which Geddes replied, “You ain’t gonna take (expletive, expletive),” according to the video footage. “Come down here, boyo, come down here son; I’ll stomp your (expletive) head,” Geddes shouted up to the teen on the balcony. Soon thereafter, Geddes returned to his patrol car and the incident ended. Authorities said Geddes then reported his use of pepper spray to the proper officials within the department, consistent with department policy. A review of the use-of-force uncovered several policy violations, officials said, prompting these new actions taken against Geddes.
Authorities said the incident remains under internal review, and has also been sent to the District Attorney’s Office for review.
According to published reports as well as social media posts, several members of the Utica Police Department walked out on their shifts, while others called in sick for future shifts, following the city’s announcement of the suspension. The reports added that Utica Police Chief Mark Williams worked with the Sheriff’s Office to make sure deputies could help provide sufficient coverage of the area if needed.
The reports added that the department will seek to discipline officers who walked off or called in.