Firefighter arrested after alleged argument
Police officer also faces discipline; officials tightlipped about details
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.