Fire­fighter ar­rested after al­leged ar­gu­ment

Po­lice of­fi­cer also faces dis­ci­pline; of­fi­cials tightlipped about de­tails

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ni­cholas Buo­nanno nbuo­ @Nick­Buo­nanno on Twit­ter

WATERVLIET, N. Y .» A city fire­fighter was ar­rested after al­legedly be­ing in­volved in an ar­gu­ment with a city res­i­dent Wed­nes­day. City of­fi­cials re­leased a brief state­ment Thurs­day say­ing fire­fighter James Strock was charged with sec­ond- de­gree ha­rass­ment, a vi­o­la­tion, after a re­ported con­fronta­tion with John McCum­ber. Strock has been no­ti­fied of the charges, of­fi­cials said, and will be ar­raigned. Strock also faces pos­si­ble dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, as does po­lice Of­fi­cer Michael Har­ring­ton, who al­legedly had some un­spec­i­fied in­volve­ment in the in­ci­dent. The Record filed a re­quest un­der the state Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Law after of­fi­cials re­fused to pro­vide fur­ther de­tails on the in­ci­dent. Both Mayor Michael Man­ning and po­lice Chief Mark Spain did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment Thurs­day. McCum­ber, 43, said Thurs­day af­ter­noon that while Strock faces charges, Har­ring­ton ac­tu­ally in­sti­gated the in­ci­dent, which hap­pened Wed­nes­day morn­ing in the park­ing lot of the new Ste­wart’s Shop at the foot of the Congress Street Bridge. “I’ve known Har­ring­ton for years, and we’ve never seen eye to eye,” McCum­ber said. “Har­ring­ton has been a cop here for a lit­tle over two years, and I’ve got eight tick­ets and one ar­rest, and they’re all from Har­ring­ton.” McCum­ber, a 24- year city res­i­dent and owner of Ac­cu­rate Asphalt, said Har­ring­ton was stand­ing in the park­ing lot, and when McCum­ber looked at the of­fi­cer as he went to en--

ter the store, Har­ring­ton replied, “What the [ ex­ple­tive] are you look­ing at?” The two ex­changed words be­fore McCum­ber went into the store, McCum­ber said, but when McCum­ber left the store — this time with his cell­phone’s voice recorder turned on — Har­ring­ton con­fronted him again.

“He said, ‘ When­ever you want to do this, McCum­ber, we can do it,’” McCum­ber said. “I said ‘ What?’ and he said, ‘ When­ever you want to do this, McCum­ber, we can do this.’”

At that point, he said, Strock, who had been in the store at the same time as McCum­ber, drove up to the two — wear­ing his city fire­fighter uni­form — and threat­ened to “knock my teeth out.” McCum­ber said he told the men he was record­ing them and turned to walk away, at which point Strock threw a cup of cof­fee that flew over McCum­ber’s shoul­der.

McCum­ber took the record­ing to city po­lice, who in­ves­ti­gated the case and charged Strock.

The in­ci­dent comes nearly two years after the last in a string of ar­rests in­volv­ing city po­lice of­fi­cers that be­gan when of­fi­cer Ni­cholas Pon­tore was ac­cused of pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion to a vi­o­lent Troy drug gang and buy­ing drugs from its mem­bers. He was sen­tenced to as much as two years in prison after tak­ing a plea deal in Jan­uary 2016.

In July 2015, Joshua Spratt, a school re­source of­fi­cer, was ac­cused of hav­ing sex­ual con­tact with a pair of un­der­age stu­dents. Spratt sub­se­quently pleaded guilty to one felony count of crim­i­nal sex­ual act and was sen­tenced to six months in jail and 10 years’ pro­ba­tion and or­dered to reg­is­ter as a sex of­fender.

And that Novem­ber, for­mer deputy chief Mark Fiet was ac­cused of em­bez­zling more than $ 3,000 from the city fu­neral home where he also worked. He ad­mit­ted later in the month to felony counts of grand lar­ceny and fal­si­fy­ing busi­ness records and was sen­tenced in Fe­bru­ary 2016 to 1 to 3 years in prison and or­dered to pay as much as $ 65,000 in resti­tu­tion.

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